Graham Thorpe hopes the Hundred allows England’s batsmen to relax before their five Test series against India and believes their mental approach is proving more of a hindrance than any technical problems.
Thorpe, the assistant coach, and Marcus Trescothick, the elite batting coach, have plenty of work to do with their charges before the first Test against India on 4 August after the 1-0 defeat against New Zealand exposed shortcomings.
There are only two rounds of County Championship cricket before then and England’s players will be made available for a thrash during the first 10 days of the Hundred – their last competitive action before facing India’s stellar attack at Trent Bridge – in order to boost the tournament’s inaugural season.
Asked how this might affect them, Thorpe said: “I hope what it does is allow them to free up and enjoy their cricket, help them to relax. Free up the hands and the arms but [while] being able to adapt to each form of the game.
“I hope it gives them a mental break and the ones who come back into the Test squad come back with that hunger and desire to be better.”
Thorpe, a member of the England team that lost at home against New Zealand in 1999, stressed that, while players are being backed, the runs column remains all important.
He has diagnosed some anxiety when individuals start at the crease and urged greater strike rotation as one cure.
The eight-wicket defeat in Birmingham prompted debate over some idiosyncratic techniques and off-stump guards, something that led the former captain Nasser Hussain to lament a “we are right” mentality among the current generation. Thorpe, like the captain, Joe Root, is less convinced by this.
“Look around the world, players have different techniques,” he says. “But whatever technique you have, the basics are still the same: you have to get in, you have to be positive in your defence, leave the ball well outside off stump and play straight.
“If you look at the techniques of all our batters from Dom Sibley to Rory Burns, to Ollie Pope to Dan Lawrence, to me it comes down to decision making. It is about doing it more consistently and that is a mental thing really.
“Techniques will be looked at and sometimes as a player you need to not listen to too much noise from the outside. But the reality is that you do need to perform.”
Meanwhile Sussex have confirmed that Ollie Robinson will return from a short break to play a second XI Twenty20 match versus Hampshire at Hove on Tuesday as he awaits the outcome of England’s investigation into offensive tweets written in 2012 and 2013.