Cricket interview

Graham Thorpe, former England batsman

This month we are privileged to speak to a left-handed batsmen who played countless match-winning innings in both Test and limited-overs cricket, and helped transform England from the also rans of the 1990s to the battle-hardened, successful side of the mid-2000s. It is of course Graham Thorpe - the most complete England batsmen of his generation. His ability to handle both pace and spin with ease, in all conditions, saw him go on to score nearly 7,000 Test runs for his country at an average of just under 45, in an era when a number of the greatest bowlers to have ever played the game were turning their arms over.

But, before we start talking through the highs and lows of Graham’s career, I must start with a couple of did you knows...

Did you know that this great left-handed batsmen, is actually right-handed?! “Totally true,” admitted Graham. “I write right handed, I hit tennis balls with my right hand. In fact, everything is right handed, apart from cricket!” Apparently, at five years of age he kept getting out to his two older brothers, so of course there was only one thing to do. “I kept getting out and having to field all of the time! My Dad batted left handed in village cricket and told me to try batting left handed. I did and I started batting for longer periods of time!”

And now to the second. Did you know we could have lost this great ‘left’-hander to football? “I probably loved my football more than cricket when I was younger.”

And we’re not just talking a fleeting love interest. Graham’s childhood football career, reached the levels of England under 18s. “I remember going through about 10 elimination days at Lilleshall, and I got all the way through to England under 18s. It was a brilliant experience and great fun. But in the end, I chose cricket.”

We’re glad he did.

And it was certainly the right decision. After some early successful seasons batting in the middle-order for his home county Surrey, Graham was selected for the 1993 one day series against Australia. Despite the side losing the three match series 3-0, Graham took confidence that he made ‘starts’ in all three of appearances, registering scores of 31, 36, and 22. Performances, the selectors obviously took note of, as just a few months later, Graham was thrust into his first Ashes series.

With the side 2-0 down in the series, with four Tests to play, the selectors knew changes were required if they were to have any chance of turning around the deficit. “The selectors made a lot of changes. As well as myself, Martin McCague, Mark Lathwell, Mark Ilott and Nasser were brought into the team. I was full of nerves and the game didn’t start well at all for me.”

Batting first, an 86 from Robin Smith and 71 from the returning Nasser Hussain, saw England register a competitive 321 in their first innings. But for Graham his return was just six runs, caught by Steve Waugh off of the bowling of Merv Hughes. “I was edgy in those first three days. I didn’t get runs in the first innings. I then dropped Michael Slater in the field when he was only on 10 and the Aussies were well ahead in the game.”

But then came a rest day. This was the last series where the sides had a ‘rest’ day after the third day’s play of a Test match. “I got on the train and went back to London on that rest day. I went to a BBQ and had a couple of beers and spoke to a few people, including my Dad, and just said that I didn’t enjoy those first three days and that I felt quite tense. It really helped talking. I then went back up to Manchester telling myself just to give it a crack and don’t worry if you balls it up. Don’t worry about failing. Just give it a go. And if you go down, go down on your own terms.”

114 runs (not out) later, it’s fair to say the approach worked! “I had a great partnership with Goochie. It was a great experience for me batting with him and it was a brilliant feeling to get a hundred on debut. I was a lot more positive in my approach and that rest day really benefitted me. We ended up close to winning it. I remember we had them six down at tea time; it finished up a draw, but I remember walking away from those last two days thinking, this is brilliant.”

2 balls into his next Test however, and Graham was quickly learning the harsh realities of Test cricket. “Talk about a big high followed by a big low. A second ball duck! But it was a good early lesson, not to get too high after a good innings and not to get too low after a low score.”

Following a heavy defeat in that Test match at Headingley, and with the Ashes gone, captain Graham Gooch tendered his resignation and was replaced by Michael Atherton, in what signalled a new dawn for English cricket. “I remember Goochie telling us in the dressing room that he was resigning. It was a bit surreal. Here was me playing in my second Test match, sat in the dressing room with England and the captain was resigning. Looking back, when you started off playing for England in the 1990s there was so much insecurity. The team changed so much, it was one of the reasons it was hard to build team spirit.”

The harsh realities of Test cricket also hit (quite literally) in the build up to the final Test of that series. “I then broke my thumb and didn’t play in the final Test match at the Oval. It was quite ironic that it was by a bowler from my club side in Farnham who was bowling to us in the nets on the morning of the Test. What a first few Tests!”

That winter, a new look England under the captaincy of Atherton headed to the West Indies, for a tour that in Graham’s words, changed his approach to international cricket. “I learnt a lot on that tour. The West Indies were still the best team in the world. They had four quicks coming at you and I had never seen pace like that in my life, to be honest. As a 23 year old, it was a massive challenge. At times, I felt under the pump and while I felt I could survive against their bowlers, I just couldn’t break out and throw any punches back.”

But things started to turn, at least personally for Graham, in the third Test in Trinidad. “I watched Brian Lara a lot in that series and I tried to take bits from him into my own technique. I would look at his movements and his pick-ups. I also looked at how the likes of Robin Smith, Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton and Desmond Haynes approached fast bowling. How they ducked and weaved, how they took the quick bowlers on and hit the bad balls and slightly good balls for four. We’d been blown away in those first two Tests and I’d been bowled four times. I went away in the nets and just practised. I changed my technique for the Trinidad Test and hit 86 in the first innings. Unfortunately, the second innings didn’t go too well!”

This is of course, the Test match when chasing around 180 to win the game, a Curtly Ambrose onslaught, saw England bowled out for just 46! “Ambrose bowled brilliantly and he just got on a roll. They had a 180 run lead but it should have been so much less. I dropped Chanderpaul and Hicky dropped one. We should have restricted them to around a hundred. But Ambrose blew us away. It was a pretty humiliating being in that dressing room, but we realised and knew we had to keep going. We had two Test matches still to play.”

And bounce back they did. After the humiliation of Trinidad, came one of England’s finest wins of the 1990s in the next Test at Barbados – the West Indies’ first defeat in Barbados for over 60 years, with Graham once again playing a key role, with an excellent second innings knock of 84.

“I felt I was coming out of my shell by this stage. Stewie got two hundreds in the game, I got a nice little 80 and it was a really good pitch to bat on. The crowd was amazing and it was a brilliant win. We’d gone from the lowest low to the highest high. We knew after Trinidad we just had to start again. Part of that era was that if you got beaten, get back up and get on with the next game. Throw punches back in the next Test and that was our attitude. But I grew on that tour, especially my attacking game.”

Graham’s form continued during the following summer - when he scored three 70s in two Tests - against South Africa and on the tour to Australia the following winter, where he was the one batsmen who was able to consistently keep the Australian attack at bay, averaging 49.33 as England were heavily beaten in another Ashes series. But it wasn’t just that series against the Aussies that Graham was our rock. Throughout his career he was the one player we had who was able to ‘play’ Shane Warne.

In 16 Tests against the Aussies, his average was an impressive 45. So how was it that he was able to thrive against a bowler that so many others couldn’t? “People around the world had the fear of playing Shane Warne. He didn’t bowl much crap. He’d land the ball in the same place, time after time. He was good at verbals, but I quite enjoyed the challenge of it. We were similar ages and I was lucky that I could pick his flipper. I found him easier to pick than someone like Mushtaq Ahmed, whose arm was a lot lower and could get a lot more spin. But Warney was just so accurate and that’s why he got me out a few times. I remember charging down to him at Perth, when I was on about 120, and tried to hit him out of the park – I totally missed his googly!! But, I got runs against him and others in that Australian side and that was very rewarding and satisfying, because they were a fantastic side. I always felt I wanted to go out there and show that I was good enough to play against them.”

During Graham’s international career, Australia won six successive Ashes series and only once did England come close. 1997. “We always had our moments against Australia, but they were one off Test wins, once the series were dead. Our biggest chance however, was in 1997. We beat them 3-0 in the one day series before the Ashes started and then went 1-0 up at Edgbaston, which was a great Test match. It was the first and only time I played against them where we had the lead in an Ashes series. We played bloody well.”

England bowled the Aussies out for just 118 runs and then thanks to a century from Graham and a double hundred from Nasser Hussain, England piled on 478 runs in reply. “Mark Taylor was struggling and you could tell little chinks were opening up a bit in their side.” Despite the Aussies fighting back in their second innings, England went 1-0 up in the series with an outstanding 9 wicket victory. But as they always say, be wary of the wounded animal. “We got away with a draw in the next Test at Lords – somehow we produced a green pitch which was tailor-made for Glenn McGrath who got 8 wickets on it! But then all of a sudden Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and McGrath played out of their boots and they blew us away in the next three Test matches and our chance was gone. They just collectively were a very powerful side, that didn’t change a great deal throughout that era. I always felt that was our best chance in getting close to them. But, history will tell you they were one of the best sides to have ever played the game.”

One of the advantages the Australians had over England in that era was that their players were centrally contracted and had been for a number of years, while England players didn’t have that luxury. And that to Graham, was one of the big disadvantages the squad had during the 90s and when trying to compete with the likes of Australia. “Throughout that era we were pushing and pushing as players for central contracts. One of our big challenges was that we were never able to get the same bowlers out on to the park time after time. Australia had central contacts ten years before us. We’d finish a Test match and have to go straight back and play county cricket the next day. Whereas sometimes batsmen could deal with playing time and time again, for bowlers it would wear them down. We were playing cricket 25 days out of 28. Once those central contracts got in place it was no coincidence that we started getting the consistency and wins. If I look at my Test career, I won about 12 or 13 Tests of the 50 I played before central contracts. In the second 50, I won about 37 and a lot of that was due to central contracts, consistency in selection and less injuries to our fast bowlers. Those central contracts also bought about an England spirit. We felt we are England now. We belong to England. It was a big shift.”

England finally moved to central contracts when the team was under the guidance of Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain. And it was the period under this captain and coach that coincided with Graham’s most successful time playing for England. One of the biggest highlights were the wins in the subcontinent against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And who can forget that decisive win in Karachi, where Graham’s 64 not out, in near darkness, was vital to securing a memorable series win.

“It was filthy dark and within ten minutes of us going off it was literally jet black. I’d been out there batting for two and a half hours, so my eyes had adjusted and could see the ball ok. But it was much tougher for the guys like Nasser who had to come in at the end and could barely see the thing. By the end we were literally just swinging and hoping. It was a great feeling at the end to get over the line. We had a great team spirit on that tour, one of the best I had played in. We had great support staff and there was just a real camaraderie in the camp. We definitely surprised them. A lot of people thought we were going to get hammered 3-0 and that we had no idea on how to play spin in that part of the world. But we thought we had a decent side and in Crofty and Gilo we had two strong spinners of our own, so if the pitches did turn they would come to the party. We went into the tour trying not to lose to start with and just biding our time for an opening. And that opening came in Karachi, where they just felt the pressure.”

With a 1-0 series win in the bag, the team travelled on to Sri Lanka, and another memorable series victory was secured. “The bigger performance that winter for me was away in Sri Lanka. We were up against Murali on real turning tracks and really hot conditions. It was very challenging. To achieve the win there was as good as it got for us as a Test team. If we weren’t going to win the Ashes, to win in the sub-continent was the next biggest thing to do and those two wins represented a fantastic achievement for us. It pushed us quite high up the rankings and the innings I got in Colombo was probably one of the best innings I ever played.”

In searing heat, Graham hit a magnificent first innings 113 not out, with the ball turning square. With Sri Lanka bowled out for just 81 in their second innings, England reached their target of 74, for the loss of 6 wickets, with Graham, once again guiding the side home with an excellent 32 not out. “I felt I picked Murali well in that series. He hadn’t quite formulated his doosra on that tour, but he was a real, real, challenge. However, I managed to get some good performances where I felt quite confident playing against him. When you’re in that mind set, you have to make the most of it. But credit to our bowlers, they bowled brilliantly. We were 1-1 going into that Colombo Test and the pitch really did turn square. But that actually brought our spinners into play. Crofty and Gilo were brilliant.”

I asked Graham how much of an influence did the coaching of Duncan Fletcher have on that tour. “Massive. He gave us ideas on what your way of playing spin should be. I found him a very positive coach, especially when it came to playing spin. For example, he said I should look to hit Murali over the top from a standing position, as I felt uncomfortable going down the pitch to him in case he managed to turn it past me. He said can you hit him from the crease. Things like that gave you the license. His training sessions were always intense. I remember he would rough up surfaces to make it difficult to bat in the nets and that put us in a good place in the games as we felt we could go toe to toe with the Sri Lankans. Often the biggest battle at Test level, is not confusing the games too much. Keep a good clear plan. And that’s what we had on that tour. We had good new ball bowlers in Gough and Caddick. Craig White was excellent at reverse swinging the ball. And we had two spinners in Gilo and Crofty. Duncan didn’t always come across as everyone’s favourite, but the lads who played under him in that period, held him in a very high regard. He had a good sense of humour in the dressing room, very dry. But the public never saw that side of him. He’d give us a few nights off and I remember we used to have some great fun tuk tuk racing around Colombo, which he laughed about. He wanted a team that was enjoying itself and which had a togetherness. He knew a bit of a laugh off the field would allow us to play better on it. He fostered that very well.”

While things were going well on the field, off the field in 2002, Graham was going through a tough period in his personal life. “I was going through a very difficult divorce. Also, my Surrey team mate Ben Hollioake was killed in a car accident and I was going through a lot of mental trauma.”

Despite this, on the tour of New Zealand in early 2002, Graham hit one of the fastest double centuries ever in Test cricket. “To be honest it was a very strange innings, in that I was in so much personal turmoil, I didn’t really care at that stage. I remember I was dropped on four, third ball. I was out there batting with Freddie and we both said let’s just give it a whack and see what happens. We did that for 50 overs and put on about 370 between us. It was bloody good pitch to bat on, lovely bounce, quick outfield and we piled it on.”

What made this game interesting was the fact that despite setting a target in excess of 500 to win, New Zealand nearly chased it down. “Nathan Astle was unbelievable. He hit the fastest double hundred ever. We ended up winning by 70 runs, but Astle was batting so quickly that they only would have needed another 6 overs or so and they would have won. It was some of the most amazing hitting I’d ever seen. I’ve honestly never seen power like it. I remember he hit Caddick for a six straight out of the ground.” But, win England did.

Following that tour, Graham took the hard decision to take an indefinite break from all cricket. In recent years there have been a number of instances of other players who have experienced health issues and mental illness while on international duty, and I asked Graham if he felt the team management today are better equipped to spot the various symptoms?

“A lot still relies in a way on how the lads develop. With players like Marcus Trescothick, Jonathan Trott and myself, things developed while we were away. You get married, you have kids, some thing might suddenly happen while you’re away and it plays on your mind and those can be the triggers. We definitely have the systems in place now where players can put their hand up if they have a problem. But occasionally, players still keep it to themselves, so you can never be 100 percent sure. But there is an acceptance now that you should not be afraid to ask for help. Barriers have definitely been broken down. As a management team on tour we try to make sure everyone is alright, that no one is staying in on their own. Lads of course might still want some of their own time, but we make sure no one is staying in too much. There is definitely a lot more awareness and players know there is nothing to be ashamed of. In any walk of life, we all have our issues but there are people to help and that’s a good place to be.”

Graham made a return to the England side in 2003 for the crucial fifth Test against South Africa at the Oval, where he delighted everyone with a century that helped set up England’s astonishing comeback to level the series 2-2.

“That was one of the best innings I ever played. I think because I was out of the side for such a long period of time, and at 34 I didn’t know if I still had it in me. I’d not been in the team for a year. But I’d met my second wife and she said I should give it another crack with England. And that got me mentally wanting to play for England again that summer. I was picked for the final Test after Nasser broke his toe and I got a call from David Graveney to say I was back in. It felt like a debut again. It was Alec Stewart’s last Test match and I was pretty nervous as I didn’t know if I was still good enough. But it was a dream innings. I managed to channel the nerves and we won the Test and drew the series. If I’d of failed in that game I probably won’t have been picked for the winter tour. Michael Vaughan had taken over as a skipper by then and even though I got on well with Vaughany you never know how a new captain is going to view some of the older players. So it was great to score runs. Later that evening he took me to one side and told me that I would be going on the tour that winter, which was just great.”

Following that innings, Graham went on to score 1,635 runs at 56.37 in England's successful run under Michael Vaughan, also reaching the milestone of 100 Tests, against Bangladesh at the start of the 2005 season. It was fair to say he definitely ‘still had it’.

“It was brilliant playing under Vaughany. We won seven Tests out of seven at home in 2004 and something like seven series on the bounce, it was just amazing. The team had winners in it. Bowling wise we had Harmison, Flintoff, Hoggard and Jones that could all take wickets. Gilo was very under rated. He played such an important role in the side, with the support he offered the quick bowlers. He never bowled $hit. He always kept it tight and picked up important wickets. It was a great side to play in.”

The highlight of Michael Vaughan’s captaincy was of course the 2005 Ashes series, a series that sadly Graham was overlooked for, despite averaging nearly 60 in the 20 odd Test matches he’d played since returning to the side.

“I was loving being back in the side and enjoying it, but do you know what? Vaughany and Duncan were no mugs. KP was always going to play in 2005, especially after what he’d did in the ODI series in South Africa and the ODI series leading into the Ashes. He was the type of player you needed against Australia, a young energetic, talented player who was going to throw some punches back at them. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been great to have played in it, firing and performing, but that’s life. And, if I’m honest, on that 2004 series in South Africa, I was starting to creek and Fletcher and Vaughany knew that. I played a couple of real dogged innings, one in Pretoria and one in Durban, but I knew I was starting to just tailor off mentally. I was 36 and it was getting tougher and tougher. So it was probably the only time in my career, that I was left out of a side, when deep down, I wasn’t surprised.”

From a supporters point of view and from the outside looking in, it was a crying shame, that someone who fought so hard against the Australians for so long, was not a part of what was such a glorious time in England’s history.

“It was life, but when I look back at my whole career, I wouldn’t change it. You could say I wish I won the Ashes, or a World Cup along the way, but you can’t look at it like that. When you play cricket for England as long as I did, you feel blessed. It would have been great to have had central contracts sooner. I honestly believe they would have made a difference. Vaughany’s team were in prime position to finally win an Ashes against what was still a very, very fine Australia team. Those central contracts led us to become a very fine England side. But we had some good times and I always look back at it fondly.”

I asked Graham, when he looked back at his career, who were some of the best players he played with and against.

“Brian Lara was definitely the best batter I played against. He was a big influence on me as a player. I played in both of his world record innings, plus countless double hundreds and hundreds, so I got to see a lot of him! But I picked up so much stuff from his technique and took it into mine. Then of course there was Tendulkar, Ponting and Kallis. Batting wise for us, Stewie was probably the best we had who could play fast bowling. Michael Vaughan was an exceptional batsmen, he got to number one in the world for a while and looked an awesome player for a period of time. Fred had the presence as an all-rounder – you could see he had something special and could win a game with bat or ball and he had bucket hands at slip. Bowling wise, Shaun Pollock was an exceptional bowler who certainly gave me problems. As did Wasim Akram, Shane Warne, Murali and Courtney Walsh. In a strange way I didn’t mind facing Ambrose or McGrath as they were line and length. Don’t get me wrong they were bloody hard to play against, but you knew where the ball would be landing, whereas someone like Courtney Walsh had a few more tricks up his sleeve. Sometimes he would pitch it up, he had a great slower ball that got me out a couple of times and he had a quick bouncer. He was awkward. Pollock would bowl very close to the stumps and move the ball both ways, and could clip you on the head with his bouncer. He was a very intelligent bowler. While Wasim had all of the tricks with both the old and new ball. He’d run off of about 8 yards and bowl 90 miles per hour plus!”

And who was the best captain he played under? “I played more Test matches under Athers’ captaincy than anyone else. But I felt he was a slightly stubborn captain in many ways. He was a guy you wanted to impress. He was determined, dogged and led by example. You wanted to earn his respect, especially in the early days. You’d see how hard he fought and you wanted to match that. But, I wouldn’t put Athers at the top of my captain list, tactically, mainly because I didn’t think he ever had the teams really to bring it out of him. So I’d say it has to be between Nasser and Vaughany. Nasser made the team harder to beat and really gelled a team, which some say, had some awkward players in it. He galvanised that team and put a lot of passion into it. You knew exactly where you stood with Nass. He had the right players at the right time. When he handed over to Vaughany though, it was the right time. Vaughany brought a little bit of what I would call, freedom. They were both very well respected and tactically good captains. Nasser would put a bloke on the boundary for Brian Lara, and would bowl over the wicket to Tendulkar and not give a toss. He’d be in your face as a captain. Vaughany would give more responsibility to his players. It’s hard to split them because it was different kinds of eras. I just think they were both the right captains at the right stages of our evolution. Domestically, however, Adam Hollioake was a very good captain at Surrey. He had quite a senior dressing room when he first took over, but he was such a strong personality, and the hardest bloke in the team, no one would ever pick a fight with him! But he dragged people along with him and I loved playing under him. He was a very positive captain.”

I asked Graham about his time at Surrey, and he looks back at his county career with great fondness. “We won two county championships. We got to two Lords finals and we won the Sunday league in 1996 under Dave Gilbert’s coaching. We had a very strong team with a lot of home grown players. Very fond memories.”

After Graham’s England career ended, he made the move down under to work for his former Surrey coach Dave Gilbert, who was then chief executive at New South Wales. “Dave asked me if I fancied coming over. I discussed it with the wife, and with the kids both under five at the time we just thought what an opportunity for a change of life. I wasn’t totally sure what to do career wise; I’d played around with a bit of television work, but here was an opportunity to go over as a freelance batting coach. I actually went over as a player, I was on their registered list but that changed pretty quickly and I became batting coach for New South Wales, under Trevor Bayliss. I worked under Trevor for a year, before he took the Sri Lanka job, which was great. Matty Mott then took over and I became his assistant and also ran the New South Wales second team.”

It was great experience for Graham, particularly leading a second eleven team, which consisted of the likes of Dave Warner, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja and the late Phil Hughes. “It taught me a lot. When you move into coaching from a player, you’re starting on the bottom rung of the ladder and it’s like doing an apprenticeship. You know you’ve got a lot knowledge and experience as a player, but coaching is very different. If you speak the wrong way to players, you lose them. You have to be quite thoughtful and patient. New South Wales are a big state side, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time over there and it’s been great to see how those players have now progressed.”

After three years in Australia, Graham returned to the UK and to a coaching role at his beloved Surrey and he is now employed at the ECB as the country’s National Lead Batting Coach. “It’s a varied role. I’m involved with the England Lions, the Under 19s and I dip in and out with the England side, so I typically coach the one day side and Ramps (Mark Ramprakash) does the Test side.”

Graham is extremely passionate and you can tell he gets immense enjoyment out of his coaching. “I’ve always been quite clear on what I wanted to do with my coaching: to produce players to play for England. Sometimes you might hear some people say you can get away with being a good front foot player in county cricket but I don’t want to produce county cricketers, I want to produce international cricketers. So my style of coaching is that you have to be a good player of the short ball and you’ve got to be a good player of spin. So players have got to develop a good technique and practice in that way. You do some really hard yards with the players, but you’ve also got to be compassionate with them and realise that players do develop at different times. I feel very lucky to do it and I have a lot of passion for the role.”

Graham also gave a bit of an insight into the way Trevor Bayliss operates. “Trevor is a very open-minded coach. He’s open to different coaches from the county set-ups coming in and out on training days. He’s very keen to get them involved so they can see what’s going on.”

I asked Graham if he has to tinker his approach to coaching with the three different formats of the game and similar to Peter Such, he says the basics will always remain the same. “You’re there to score runs. If you’ve got the intent to score runs, you’ll pick the bat up better and you’ll move your feet better. You’ll also, defend better. You try to keep the basics in that form. If you’re a Test player you want them to have the intent. If you’re playing 50 over or T20 you want them to have the intent. It’s then the ‘practice’ that is different. The amount of power hitting we do now in T20 and 50 over cricket is enormous and it’s actually quite dangerous for us coaches! But as coaches we try not to over-complicate stuff. We just need to make sure players develop ‘game sense’, tactical awareness and read the game well.”

Since Graham has been in his role at the ECB, many of his charges have gone on to great things in the game. “The really pleasing thing for me is that a lot of the lads who were with the under 19s and the Lions four years ago have all now progressed into the senior side, the likes of Root, Stokes, Buttler, Roy, Hales and Sam Billings. They have become very successful international players. What I like about these lads is they also play with a smile on the face. They could very easily be playing on the local park, but there they are representing their country and having fun. It’s great because young lads look at that and want to come through and be the next Joe Root or Ben Stokes. I’m very proud to have played a part in their development.”

As fans we are indebted to Graham Thorpe. As a player, he gave us many memories. He was the player who made us proud to support England in those darker days and who we were proud to say was our number four. And now we are indebted to him for his coaching and the great work he’s doing at the ECB.

A true England legend.

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