Which of these players is Thorpe's 12th man?
Which of these players is Thorpe's 12th man?
Graham Thorpe picks a team from among the best cricketers he played with
Graham Thorpe won 100 Test caps for England between 1993 and 2005, scoring 6744 runs at 44.66, as well as playing 438 games in all formats for Surrey. Here he picks the best red-ball team from players he played with throughout his career.
What can you say about his record and longevity? He played spin well, played the quicks well. The opposition always had huge respect for him. I played with him early in my career and he set a great example to the younger players, just in the way he went about his business. He'd been an England legend for years, and I'd watched a lot of his career on television, so batting with him on my debut and putting on a partnership was a fantastic experience. He kept saying to me, "Keep going, you've never got enough."
I played with Strauss for two or three series when he first came in. He was a classy guy, just a really strong character. He took to Test cricket straightaway - again, equally skilled against pace and spin, and a very even temperament. What he went on to achieve, both as a batter and as a captain, was extraordinary. He was also a very good and reliable catcher in the slips. It was tough leaving Michael Atherton out, but Strauss has the stronger record.
Another one with a great temperament for run-making, and who was equally adept against spin and pace: the way he dealt with Muralitharan and Ambrose and Walsh early on in his career was hugely impressive. There was no flashiness about him as a character. He was just one of those blokes you were really pleased to see walking out to open the innings. He was also very good at ordering off the lunch menu! Mark Butcher was unlucky to miss out, but I'd have him as twelfthers to do the drinks after the game.
Why have just one skipper when you can have two?
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Why have just one skipper when you can have two? © Getty Images
There was a period in his career where Vaughany's batting was at a very, very high level. A brilliant timer of the ball. When you watched him bat you knew you had a world-class player in your ranks. His level stepped up very quickly from his first couple of tours, in South Africa, then against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He became very dominant against the quicks at times and could also handle the turning ball well. And he was another exceptionally strong leader.
It's tight with Robin Smith, but I've put Nass in because, more than anything, I just wanted him to buy dinner for the team in the evening - something he never did throughout his career! Nass was a fiery captain, with a lot of nervous energy, but when that was channelled the right way, he was a real fighter as a batsman and a ruthless leader. He had some patches where he wasn't scoring runs but he always showed real guts and never really let it affect his captaincy too much, which isn't easy, although it did affect a few drinks machines abroad, which had a bit of damage done to them. Nasser and Vaughan could have an innings each as skipper.
Stewy's in to face the second new ball - he was a brilliant player against the quicks - and obviously for his keeping, which he did really well for England for a number of years, whenever called upon for the sake of the team's balance. Always neat and tidy. He was immaculate in the dressing room - all his bats lined up, his shoes, his gloves perfectly in position. Changing next to him I always used to try and disrupt his corner when I was leaving in the evening - kick a few of his bats over. When I was younger, he was a great example of how to go about things to get the best out of yourself. A great pro and a tough character.
Fred had periods in his career where his bowling and batting were at a standard where they would just change games. Simple as that. Even as a youngster, I almost felt he was your go-to bowler: he hit the bat very, very hard. Facing him in the nets was a real challenge. He became very consistent with the ball. Brilliant slipper; big hands. And from a batting point of view he could change things very quickly. He made it look simple at times, purely through his power. What he did in 2005 was phenomenal, but having played with him before that, I knew he had that in him.
The fast and the ferocious: Waqar Younis
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The fast and the ferocious: Waqar Younis © Getty Images
In the early part of his career at Surrey, he was just the most devastating reverse-swing bowler, and at extraordinary pace. He became a very good new-ball bowler later as well. And he always had tremendous heart. Ran in miles. We were good mates, growing up together at Surrey. He took 113 wickets in his first year, in 14 games, and the next best was Martin Bicknell with 37. So many great spells, but there was one against Hampshire on a quick pitch at The Oval where he destroyed them: 14 wickets in the match. He got Robin Smith and [David] Gower out, and broke Mark Nicholas' hand. It was ferocious. A champion.
A big, big heart and great character in the dressing room, but just a magician with the ball. He was the icing on the cake in terms of the County Championships we won at Surrey [three in four years]. He almost made it become easy. He was very hard to read, very little change in his action. We'd make breakthroughs and he'd get so many people out first or second ball. Standing at slip to him helped me when I played against him for England, although in the nets at Surrey he never, ever bowled me a doosra.
I played with Harmy at a time when some of his spells were off the chart. He was just a world-class bowler for a period: like Vaughan, he made world No. 1. When he was at his peak, most batters in the world wouldn't want to face him. There was the height, the bounce, the pace, but when he was at his best he also swung the ball. He could bowl slightly fuller at you and knock your head off. That's a pretty strong package, very similar to Ian Bishop at his peak.
It was really tough to leave out Darren Gough, a brilliant character in the dressing room, always chirpy, and a tremendous bowler with new or old ball, who you always felt was giving it everything and could get you a wicket. He once threw an orange at me at Chelmsford when I was doing a bit of punditry in front of the pavilion and suggested his pace had dropped, but that's not the reason he's not picked here. I just can't leave Jimmy out. His fitness, his courage, his capacity to learn, his longevity and his skill levels, which are comparable to someone like Warne, with the inswing, the outswing, the control, the knowledge of what to bowl on different surfaces, when to keep a bit in the tank. Just outstanding.
Scott Oliver tweets @reverse_sweeper
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