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Graham Thorpe – Joe Root’s example is one for all England players to follow

Graham Thorpe has called on England’s batsmen to follow the example of their captain, Joe Root, and rise to the challenge of taking on India in their own back yard, as they seek to overcome their lack of standard preparation time ahead of Friday’s first Test in Chennai.

Speaking from his hotel room during the squad’s third day of quarantine since arriving from Sri Lanka, Thorpe warned that a steep learning curve would lie ahead for several of his players – not least those on their maiden tours of Asia, such as Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley and Ollie Pope, who may yet come into contention as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury.

However Thorpe, whose outstanding displays on England’s 2000-01 tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka were integral to England’s twin Asian victories that winter, added that testing oneself against the best should be the goal of all international cricketers, and singled out Root as “a great student of the game” as he prepares to play in his 100th Test.

“There’s a hell of a lot of hard cricket ahead of us and we’re not under any illusions about that,” Thorpe said. “But as a cricketer at the highest level, it’s where you want to test yourself in many ways. It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”

For the first Test, England are set to welcome back their other most senior batsman, Ben Stokes, following his absence in Sri Lanka. However, Root is sure to go into the series as India’s most sought-after wicket, following his immense display in the Sri Lanka Tests, in which he racked up 426 runs including a big first-innings hundred in each of England’s victories.

And Thorpe, who has been closely involved with Root’s development, both as England’s batting coach and in his previous work with the Lions squad, said that the 100-Test landmark – which Thorpe himself brought up in his final England appearance in 2005 – would serve as a mark of Root’s character as much as his obvious talent as a cricketer.

“It is a real achievement because of the longevity of it,” Thorpe said. “You need a good sense of humour to play that amount of cricket because you will experience highs but there will some moments in there where you have your lows.

“You have to show a bit of character and resilience, and you have to keep adapting and sometimes you will have to tinker with your technique and you have to manage all of that.

“What I saw early on – and I was fortunate enough to see some of his early games – was character. He just had a great work ethic and he certainly tried to work things out for himself.

“So to play 100 Tests no mean feat. He will be very proud, and his family will be very proud. The players in the team with him have a very good example to watch about how he goes about his business. His work ethic is fantastic and he’s also kept his love for the game which is so important.

“He’s always remained very humble, he is a great student of the game and loves watching other people play. He loves learning and doesn’t want to stand still. He has a great hunger to score runs.”

That hunger was plain to see in Sri Lanka, where Root’s exemplary shot selection against the spinners proved to be the hallmark of his series-sealing performances. With his judicious use of the sweep, allied to a confident reading of length, he set a template for success that Thorpe has urged all of his team-mates to seek to emulate.

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