|Event:||England in Australia 2006/07|
DateLine: 11th November 2006
Former Test batsman Graham Thorpe said he is happy to sit on the fence during the upcoming Ashes cricket series as he watches his former England team mates take on Australia.
Thorpe has taken up a two-year contract as the New South Wales batting coach but since Andrew Flintoff's tourists arrived here, journalists have sought his opinion on the England side for which he played 100 Tests. England step up their Ashes preparations with a three-day match against NSW at the Sydney Cricket Ground, starting Sunday. "I guess it will be a bit strange," Thorpe told The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday of coaching against England. "I know people will be interested to know who I want to win, but I just want it to be a good game of cricket. I realize that that sounds like fence sitting, but that's how I feel. It's completely different now - you spend so much of your life boxing away in one corner, and now you're on the other side."
This weekend Thorpe, 37, will be sitting alongside Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Michael Clarke and Simon Katich in the SCG Members' Pavilion. Thorpe, who underwent a highly publicized marriage break-up and bouts of depression which forced him from England's previous tour of Australia, can empathize with England opener Marcus Trecothick. Trescothick withdrew from England's Champions Trophy squad because of a stress-related illness. He claimed this week he was prepared for the Australians to sledge him about his condition. "There is going to be plenty of rib-tickling out there for sure when he gets out there to play but if he is in the same sort of form he was last time they met he will be fine," Thorpe said. "I think he has more on his plate from everything that has gone on and that goes hand in hand with the job. The moment you say, 'I am struggling to concentrate because of 'X' the way the media is you are going to throw more pressure on yourself and he has to be able to deal with it." In Thorpe and Troy Cooley, Cricket Australia could feasibly compile quite the dossier on England's batsmen and bowlers after both recently left prominent positions in Duncan Fletcher's England squad. Thorpe says he has not yet been approached to divulge information prior to the Ashes, and is concentrating on his role with NSW. "I think it will take me a while to earn the kind of reputation in Australian coaching where they would be using me like that," Thorpe said. "I am very much looking forward to the Ashes. Last year's series was an incredible contest. I think Australia have an advantage in how far they bat down the order. But please don't ask me who will win this week."