With a new development at The Kia Oval comes fresh opportunities to celebrate Surrey & England’s greatest players in the modern era.
Shortly after Mark Butcher cut the ribbon on his own room in the Micky Stewart Members’ Pavilion on Friday, his great teammate and friend Graham Thorpe did similar.
The Graham Thorpe Room, formed as part of the extension to the Pavilion to adjoin it to the new Galadari Stand, boasts photos of Thorpe’s career as well as panoramic views of the ground that was his home throughout his illustrious career of 100 Test matches.
Now England Men’s Batting coach, Thorpe enjoyed a brief moment away from the second day of the LV= Insurance Test between England & India to hear from Surrey Chairman Richard Thompson, Club President David Pakeman and say a few words himself to a crowd of former teammates and proud family members.
Born in the Surrey market town of Farnham in 1969, Thorpe’s undoubted talent took him to the county side by 1988. He made 100* not out in just his second match and carried that confidence into 1989.
His first season in which he reached the milestone of 1000 first-class runs in the English domestic season came in 1989. He was to repeat that feat another eight times in his career including every year between 1991 and 1997.
After some years of sustained excellence at The Oval and up & down the country, Thorpe got the England call for the 3rd Ashes Test in 1993. And what an arrival on the biggest stage it was.
With England five down in their second innings with a lead a nudge over 100, Thorpe scored 114 hard fought runs from 280 balls to take his country into a position from which to take a draw.
He scored 240 runs in just two Test matches the following summer before a stellar Ashes tour down under of 444 runs at 49.33 an innings. Thorpe’s highest score came in an away Test in Christchurch in 2002, when he struck 200 not out in the second innings to carry England to a 98 run over New Zealand.
However, his crowning moment was perhaps the famous ‘Win in the Dark’ in Karachi in December 2000, when in near impossible batting conditions he made 64 from 98 to drag England kicking and screaming over the finish line.
If ever there was an innings to typify a man, this was it for Thorpe. A batsman of supreme talent and technical nous of course, but one that fought hard with every fibre of his being until the end.
One of only 15 men to have played 100 Test matches for England, Thorpe scored 6744 runs at the summit of the game on top of 2380 runs in 82 ODIs. In total, he scored 32903 runs in 703 career matches.
After retiring in 2005, Thorpe was made an MBE in 2006 and has done several stints of work in the media and coaching across the game.
A one county man throughout his 17-year professional career, there is no finer example to young Surrey cricketers than Graham Thorpe.
Now, with his name prominent in the Micky Stewart Members’ Pavilion, future generations will have even more reason to talk about his talent.