23/04/2024

Stuart Broad returns to the England XI and interim coach Graham Thorpe is expecting him to perform. (Photo: Cricket.com.au)

England Interim coach Graham Thorpe is expecting better performance from his players, particularly Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad ahead of the fourth Test in Sydney.

England assistant coach Graham Thorpe is expecting big things from vice-captain Ben Stokes and veteran seamer Stuart Broad as England look to regain some pride after a challenging Ashes tour to date.

Broad, 35, will return to England’s XI For the Fourth Ashes Test, replacing seamer Ollie Robinson who will miss the match with a shoulder injury.

Broad’s only Test match this tour was in Adelaide, where he took two wickets at an average of 50 replacing Robinson, who has been England’s leading wicket-taker this series, taking 10 wickets at 14.40.

Having already lost the series and playing for pride in the remaining two matches, Thorpe, the batting coach will fill in for Chris Silverwood in Sydney. The coach tested positive to COVID-19 after members of his family in the touring party previously tested positive.

Stokes and Broad will want to make an impact in Sydney after what has been an underwhelming tour for the pair.

In this series, Stokes has only made a miserly 101 runs, averaging 16.83 runs with a high score of 34. The all-rounder has also struggled with the ball, taking four wickets at an average of 62.25 in the three tests he’s played.

Thorpe, who fronted the media today at the SCG, said he’s expecting the pair to perform, describing them as “a couple of caged tigers”.

“Getting the guys into the right frame of mind is very important. I think they want to put in a performance for themselves and collectively the team and that’s been our focus over the last few days,” Thorpe said.

The 52-year-old said he wants to see Stokes and Broad perform to the best of their ability.

“Seeing them in training, I’m seeing guys who want to put in performances and that’s my way of framing it.

“They want to do well as I said it’s a wonderful cricket ground to play at and to have that fight and competitiveness is going to be very important this week.”

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The former English batter acknowledged England’s Ashes campaign has been filled with a lot of distractions, including their preparation and the COVID-19 outbreak that has infiltrated their camp.

“There have been distractions off the field there’s no doubt about that. Preparations have been tough as well as I said last week in an ideal world, you’d have some state games coming into it [the series],” he said.

“You’d be able to have a good look at your own team coming into the series and that hasn’t happened.

“We’ve [also] had the distractions of COVID as well which have been challenging, but at the end of the day we also know we haven’t played good enough cricket when we have been out in the middle.”

Despite all the challenges, Thorpe said the match gives his players another opportunity to put in a good performance.

“We’ve got an opportunity this week at a great cricket ground to actually put in a really good performance. So, getting the guys into the right state of mind looking forward to the game, being excited about it is very important.”

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With Chris Silverwood remaining in Melbourne, Thorpe said he’s continued to remain in contact with him to keep him updated about what’s going on in Sydney.

“Yeah, I’ve been in contact with Spoons [Chris Silverwood] as well throughout. Obviously, regarding the selection of the team as well he’s been kept in the loop as to what’s going on,” he said.

“Obviously, Joe [Root] and I being on the ground here and being able to look on the surface and assess our bowlers coming into it as well. From that point of view, it felt like a risk to go in with a couple of lads who are carrying niggles so therefore it was right to bring Stuart [Broad] back in.”

England has struggled with the bat in the series, but Thorpe said the coaches have reinforced to the players to keep things simple and focus on their strengths.

“I often try to say you have to be able to find ways of throwing punches back at good bowling attacks,” he said.

“I’ve always been one for trying to set to score and then trust your defence if the ball is in the right area.

“I think that is absolutely paramount to have the right attitude and have that fight going into it as well and match Australia for the competitiveness on the pitch.”

Thorpe as a player didn’t have a great record when touring Australia, only winning the one test match in Adelaide in the 1994/95 series, but he said he encouraged his players to look at past performances to help inspire them.

“From an individual point of view, I always valued my performances against the very best teams in their own environments very highly and I would encourage our players to look for that individual performance which I know will help our team collectively do well,” he said.

“I’ve seen some former players talk in this period about some of the victories which they’ve had here. I know how hard they are to come by and from an individual point of view to perform well against the best teams in the world is a feather in your cap,”

Although England has already lost the Ashes, there are still opportunities in the next two test matches for players to stand up and cement their spots in the team.

“There is an opportunity this week for our team and our players as individuals. Some are trying to establish themselves in this team that’s an opportunity, some players are trying to stay in the team that’s also an opportunity as well,” Thorpe said.

“I’m hoping that our boys get their minds absolutely right for tomorrow. I feel like they’re in a good place [and] I feel they’re up for this match.”

Day one of the Sydney Test starts tomorrow at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Play is set to start at 10:30 am.

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