By Rob Barnett
Graham Thorpe has challenged England’s players in the Caribbean to make a definitive case for selection in the World Twenty20 team.
The tourists have two more games of their series with West Indies, the first being today, and two warm-up matches in Bangladesh - versus the Windies and India - before thier tournament opener against New Zealand on Saturday week.
Limited-overs batting coach Thorpe, an England middle-order lynchpin in the era just before Twenty20, emphasised the need for better scores from England’s top-order batsmen.
This need is particularly urgent given the top five fell in the first half of the innings, all to spin, on Sunday when the hosts’ 170 for three proved 27 too many for Stuart Broad’s side.
“We obviously need to improve at the top in the first six overs when we bat as well. We know that we’re going to get spin bowled at us, going to Bangladesh,” Thorpe said.
Joe Root being ruled out of the World T20 yesterday means more competition for places as a new-look batting line-up potentially takes shape.
“Our top order’s going to be competitive at the moment because we’ve got four games left and I don’t think we’re 100 per cent sure on the line-up, but that’s the way T20 can be as well,” Thorpe added.
“So we’re looking for performances over the next four games from the guys to put their hand up and say ‘look, it’s going to be me’.”
Thorpe, a diminutive batsman famous for using his wrists to work the ball into gaps but who could also hit multiple boundaries, says England’s current crop must balance the risks they take at the crease.
Bangladesh, the venue for the World T20, will offer pitches suited to spinners, just as the Kensington Oval did on Sunday, meaning there will be limited pace on the ball.
“We have to identify those players who are capable of going to Bangladesh and actually having a game plan, having the skill to be able to perform, know where they can score their boundaries and certainly know how we can put competitive scores on the board in Bangladesh,” Thorpe said.
“To do that we have to be bold. We have to hit boundaries, but we also need to be able to manouvre the ball as well, against quality spinners as well.”