Thorpe talks up EPP trio

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Graham Thorpe evaluates EPP new boys Varun Chopra, Gary Ballance and Ben Foakes

Three of the England Performance Programme’s new batsmen have impressed ECB Lead Batting Coach Graham Thorpe, each in a different setting.

Varun Chopra, Gary Ballance and Ben Foakes have been working at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough and are soon to take a month-long trip to India with the EPP.

Chopra exceeded 1,000 LV= County Championship runs for a second straight season as Warwickshire went one better than last year and won the Division One title.

“He’s had two good seasons. He backed up last year again with another good season for Warwickshire, culminating in them winning the championship and he played a big part from an opening perspective as well,” Thorpe told

Varun Chopra

“He’s matured over the last few years, he’s starting to really know his game," Thorpe said of Warwickshire opening batsman Varun Chopra

Chopra was a Potential England Performance Programme player last winter, which took him to Sri Lanka for a training camp and match experience.

“He’s matured over the last few years, he’s starting to really know his game and I think he’ll get a lot out of this programme in terms of going to India,” Thorpe added.

“He went to Sri Lanka last year on a programme which we had, and he scored well and he impressed over there so he’s had a little taste of playing in Asia and this I think will be another good step for him in terms of his education.”

Like Chopra, Zimbabwe-born Ballance enjoyed a second consecutive impressive county season, having averaged over 55 again in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and more than 40 in the championship. He also helped Yorkshire reach the Friends Life t20 final and hit two fifties in the Champions League T20.

“You’re looking at a lad who can play possibly three forms of the game,” Thorpe said.

“Speaking to the management at Yorkshire as well, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, often performed well for them in difficult situations, came in and either dug them out of a hole or was able to see them over the line in one-day cricket. And that’s the type of resilience which you’re looking for.”

Essex’s Foakes struck 93 on championship debut in May and was England’s leading scorer at the Under-19 World Cup with 234 runs at an average of 39.

“It’s a good sign not just for Ben himself but also the programmes underneath when we get one of the under-19s coming out and actually moving straight into the Performance Programme,” Thorpe added.

“It shows that he’s probably the stand-out batsman in the under-19s. He made his debut for Essex this year and scored 90. He’s impressed in terms of his character and also with his technique. It’s good if we’re able to move a player through as quickly as that.”

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