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January 26, 2013
England have named Graham Thorpe as batting coach for the one-day international and Twenty20 series in New Zealand in a decision which moves closer towards separate coaching set-ups for the Test and one-day sides.
Thorpe replaces Graham Gooch, whose role as Test batting coach for next summer's Ashes series remains assured.
The reshuffle follows the appointment of Ashley Giles as England's new coach in the shorter formats of the game to reduce the touring workload on England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, whose day-to-day coaching involvement is now restricted to the Test arena.
England's managing director Hugh Morris has stressed the appointment of Thorpe, who has cut his teeth as batting coach for England Lions, will be reviewed at the end of the New Zealand tour, although his fulltime appointment seems inevitable.
Morris said: "Graham Gooch's work in India made a real step change to the way we played spin bowling and was a factor in us winning that Test series. We've got an enormous amount of very high-profile Test cricket and we want Graham to focus his attention on working one-on-one with our Test players.
"Graham Thorpe, who has been working alongside the Lions as one of our coaches for the last 12 months or so, will be going to New Zealand as one-day batting coach. He's made a good impression as a batting coach and he is looking forward to the opportunity to go there."
England entered the final one-day international against India in Dharamsala on Sunday 3-1 down with one to play, and with the series already lost, but suggestions that Gooch has been removed from the one-day set-up at Giles' behest because of another failure in an Indian ODI series are an overstatement of the case.
England are committed to developing distinct coaching set-ups in Test and one-day cricket and Thorpe's introduction, which has been built towards for some time, is a natural consequence of that .
Nevertheless, Giles might welcome a more energising figure in the dressing room in the limited-overs formats. Gooch's lugubrious commonsense has had a positive effect on England's Test side, exemplified by the last Test they played as they had the mental strength to bat for for nearly 10 hours to draw the Test in Nagpur and win the series. Thorpe, though, might quicken the progress of young plyers such as Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, who have built a strong rel;ationship with him in Lions cricket and who are instrumental to England's one-day future.
Gooch, like Flower, has always had mixed feelings about the lengthy amount of time spent away from home in England's crowded international schedule. David Saker, England's bowling coach, was also briefly tempted by the Warwickshire director of cricket role for identical reasons before the lure of back-to-back Ashes series persuaded him that he had "unfinished business" with the England side. It would be no surprise if he was next.
Challenges will come thick and fast for Thorpe if, as everybody expects, he passes his probationary period. Following the ICC Champions Trophy in England this summer England face a World T20 in Bangladesh in March 2014 and a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand the following year.
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