The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Thorpe not going Down Under

London: England left-hand batsman Graham Thorpe has withdrawn from England’s Ashes tour of Australia, the ECB announced on Tuesday.

Thorpe, 33, informed the England management that he was not available just a couple of weeks after ending his exile from international cricket.

England corporate communications manager David Clarke, with the team in Colombo for the ICC Champions Trophy, said: “He is pulling out. A detailed statement will be issued in London.”

Thorpe, a key member of the batting line-up but whose future England career must now be in doubt, broke the news to the management on Monday, saying he did not feel in the right frame of mind for the trip starting next month.

He retired from one-day Internationals in July and then took a complete break from the game following the acrimonious break-up of his marriage. Earlier this month, however, he told England’s selectors he was ready to rejoin the team.

Head of selectors David Graveney conceded at the time it was a gamble to call Thorpe back. “We looked at the risk before selecting him. His desire to play international cricket is as strong as ever, he remains one of our best,” he said.

Thorpe has failed to complete a string of tours in recent years, either through injury or domestic problems. He took his recent break from the sport to spend more time with his children.

England captain Nasser Hussain last month gave Thorpe a one-week deadline to make up his mind whether he wanted to tour Australia but stressed he could not be guaranteed a place.

“Australia will view it as a weaker England side with Graham Thorpe not there — he is one of our best players — but we can’t keep having the Graham Thorpe issue cropping up. It will be a very difficult decision,” he said.

On being selected earlier this month he said: “It is time I put myself back into the mixer...If I didn’t believe I could play cricket for three months knowing what could happen during that time, I wouldn’t have put my name in the hat.”

‘Toughest decision’

Thorpe Tuesday admitted that his decision to pull out of the Ashes tour was the toughest of his career.

“I have informed the selectors I wish to withdraw from the tour to Australia,” Thorpe said in the statement released by his County Surrey. “During the six weeks away from the game, my personal situation did improve and I felt that I was able to make myself available for the tour.

“Since returning to the game I have found it difficult to consistently concentrate on cricket and I must be totally focused for the tour. I therefore feel it is better to be honest with the team, management, and myself now, rather than during the Ashes tour.”

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