Graham Thorpe predicts England hitters need ‘education’ after ‘wake-up’
Raham Thorpe believes the England batting team received a “wake-up call” and “education” in Australia on the rigors of trial cricket, which he says is “10 times harder” than the county game which produced their flawed techniques.
England lost the Ashes in 12 days and their hitters aside from Joe Root ended a dismal year with a desperate tour of Australia. None of their first six innings reached 300, and the most recent, the second in Melbourne, saw them eliminated for 68 – their lowest total in Australia since 1904.
Thorpe, the batting coach who played 100 tests for England until 2005, will replace England’s isolation head coach Chris Silverwood in Sydney this week.
He hasn’t spared his underperforming hitters – including sending an open warning to Rory Burns that a recall will only come when “small adjustments” have been made to his unorthodox method.
Thorpe, who averaged 48 in Australia and coached with New South Wales, doesn’t think the hitters followed the simple plan he put together for the tour, which he described as: “Leave the ball well, defend straight, cut and shoot really well up or down”.
“We’re always trying to educate some of the younger ones to the pace of the tryout hitters, playing situations in the game, doing it for long periods of time,” he said. “Some of them haven’t been able to do it yet.
“Some of our young players are getting an education and if they didn’t know it before, they understand how difficult the cricket test is. Not just on the pitch, but off.
“With some players it’s a red flag and it could actually kick start their careers because they started training in a very, very different way. In fact, they’re really starting to train smart, they don’t waste time pumping up, hitting half volleys.
“I don’t mean this the wrong way, but they’re actually dealing with the critical side of international cricket; play high quality spins, high quality bowling rhythm, learn to put pressure on and learn situations.
Thorpe believes county cricket does not prepare players at the highest level.
“Confidence is achieved when you don’t play and we don’t have enough points on the board,” he said. “Collectively, we didn’t play the way we wanted. We can apologize as much as we want. It would have been nice to have state matches, or for the weather to be perfect.
“You put that in context: do England come here and regularly win playoffs in Australia? No, we don’t. So everything has to be lined up pretty well for us to do well, to be competitive and to really be in the game.
“They’re trying to learn it in county cricket, but the truth is when they come out of county cricket they have to learn it again because the cricket test is 10 times harder.
“We’re still trying to educate some of the younger ones to the pace of the tryout hitters, playing situations in the game, doing it for long periods of time. Some of them have not yet been able to do so.
“They did good things in the cricket test and then were beaten playing three of the best teams in the world – India, New Zealand, Australia – in their home environments.”
On Burns, who was knocked down behind his legs by Mitchell Starc on the first ball of the series and fell after Adelaide’s test, Thorpe was straightforward. The pair shared long conversations and crisp sessions around the Melbourne test, and Thorpe made it clear that, aged 31 and having played 31 tests, Burns needs to improve his 31 GPA by adjusting his technique.
It seems unlikely that he’ll get another hit in this series, assuming it goes its natural course.
“Like any player they come to a point and I said you’ve played 30 test games and average 30,” he said. “So we want you to do more, to be better than that as a player. So we had discussions with him – does he need a major overhaul of his technique or just tinkering?
“He needs to do the simple things better. So can he calm things down with his moves and things? We talked to him about it. It’s tough in competition. Anyone say you work with them? Yes you do, but you can’t attack people’s brains too much by entering test matches. Sometimes they have to come out and then you can reset a bit.
Burns has a good fighting character – but at the same time you need technique and temperament.
“When the players get a little bit of success then they think my path is right. And there is a balance to that. You can see some things. I told him, “The best bowlers in the world will analyze your technique and the right column will tell you if you are right or not.”
“Now we’ve seen that he’s got a good fighting character, so I know that. But at the same time, you need a technique and a temperament at the highest level.
Asked if Burns has a future in testing, Thorpe said: “I think he can come back and play for England definitively, but it’s very clear that these little tweaks are going to help him out. stay in the fold longer. “