Former England batsman Graham Thorpe is in hospital after falling seriously ill, the Professional Cricketers’ Association have confirmed on behalf of his family.

The 52-year-old was appointed as head coach of Afghanistan in March after his departure from the England set-up following the winter Ashes series defeat.

A prolific left-handed batsman who represented England across both Test and ODI formats, Thorpe is one of just 15 players to make over a hundred Test matches for the country.

"Graham Thorpe has recently fallen seriously ill and is currently in hospital receiving treatment," read an official PCA statement.

"His prognosis is unclear at this stage and we ask for privacy for him and his family at this time. Our thoughts are with Graham and his family."

A middle-order batsman and slip fielder, Thorpe spent his entire county career with Surrey, where he made his debut in 1988.

He made his Test debut in 1993 with a second innings century against Australia at Trent Bridge, and went on to become a fixture in the squad over the next decade.

Thorpe retired from international cricket in 2005, before also hanging up his bat a few months later at domestic level.

He worked in the media before joining the England coaching set-up in 2010, where he remained until earlier this year.

Stuart Broad has distanced himself from speculation he could succeed Joe Root as captain of the England Test team.

Yorkshire batsman Root announced he was stepping down from the role earlier this week, having led the side to both a record number of victories and defeats during his tenure.

Broad, who sat out the recent series defeat in the West Indies as part of a much-vaunted "red ball reset", is the third most-capped player in England Test history, with 152 matches.

It has been mooted England could turn to Broad, at least in the short term, to replace Root but the star paceman is not sure that scenario will play out.

"Naturally, I am aware that my name has been touted as a potential successor to Joe as England captain," Broad wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"I guess that is because I am an experienced centrally contracted player who has been around the international game a long time. However, it is not something I have given any thought.

"I am not currently in possession of a shirt within the England Test team and my focus is very much on changing that by taking wickets for Nottinghamshire over the next few weeks.

"In fact, I would argue we are in a fairly unique position as far as selection for the Test team goes right now in that there are only two players whose names you could write in pen on the scorecard.

"One of them is Joe Root, the other is Ben Stokes - and one of them isn't going to be captain for the first Test of the summer against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2 because he has just given the job away."

Despite his assertions, Broad remains one of the likelier candidates to succeed Root within the wider Test squad, due to the lack of logical options.

Stokes has previously ruled himself out of the position, while former skipper Alastair Cook remains the only player still at county level to have previously led the side in Test cricket.

England will play three Tests against New Zealand in June to kick off their summer, before subsequent series' with India and South Africa.

England interim head coach Paul Collingwood heaped praise on Ben Stokes for helping to heal the "scar tissue" from another Ashes disappointment.

Joe Root's tourists were thoroughly outplayed against their old foes Australia, succumbing to a 4-0 series defeat Down Under that saw Chris Silverwood dismissed in the wake of the hammering.

Collingwood was placed in temporary charge to lead a new-look England side, without James Anderson or Stuart Broad, to the Caribbean for a three-Test series against West Indies.

England remain in search of their first win under Collingwood – and in eight Tests overall – but have produced encouraging performances in consecutive draws in Antigua and Barbados.

Stokes, who bemoaned his fitness levels after averaging 23.6 with the bat and 71.5 with the ball in Australia, has been integral to the visitors' spirited showings against Kraigg Brathwaite's side.

Indeed, no seamer has sent down more overs in the series than Stokes (77) for his five wickets and economy of just 1.81. He also registered his first century since July 2020 with a brisk 120 in the second Test.

Collingwood was keen to credit superstar all-rounder Stokes for aiding Root and the rest of the England side in recovering from a familiar Ashes fate as they eye a winner-takes-all decider in Grenada, which starts on Thursday.

 

"He's phenomenal, he's box office," Collingwood said of Stokes.

"He was going into the Ashes with not much cricket under his belt. Now he's fit, he's determined, and you can tell he wants to make a difference in the dressing room as a leader.

"When he's preparing himself like he is at the moment, he certainly leads. He wants to go out in the middle and put in big performances. He wants the ball in hand, to score the runs, and he's doing just that at the moment.

"Even in the meetings when we first arrived, getting the scar tissue from Australia out the way and [discussing] how we were going to move forward, you could see and hear he had the bit between his teeth and wants to lead this team. I think he and Joe Root have done a magnificent job turning this round.

"He's just desperate to do well for the badge, for England. It's amazing when he's got this kind of attitude, as we all know he's one of the best. Long may it continue."

With a fully fit Stokes partnering the in-form Root, Jonny Bairstow and England's refreshed top order, Collingwood finds it hard to fault the efforts of his team so far.

"They want to put on a show, get a win under their belts, and we have a great attitude at the moment," he added. 

"All the way through the [second] Test match, we were pushing for the win. It always felt as though we were a session or session and a half behind the game with the pace Brathwaite batted in the first innings, but he showed great resilience right the way through the Test match to get a draw for them.

"It's been hard work, but you cannot fault the effort. If you could measure attitude and effort, it couldn't get any better than that."

The only criticism of England against West Indies so far has been their failure to take 20 wickets in a Test, albeit on two placid pitches, leading to calls for the inclusion of leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, who Collingwood feels will be ready whenever called upon.

"He is ready as can be," Collingwood said.

"The simple fact is, in COVID-19 times, you don't get matches in between. They are back-to-back-to-back, and it is putting a lot of stress on the players. The downside is we don't have matches in between to have preparation time for guys who are not playing."

Shane Warne brought a "Hollywood" magic to cricket and belonged to the same sporting superstar bracket as NBA legend Michael Jordan, according to an old Ashes adversary.

Former England paceman Angus Fraser described Warne as "a magician" of a bowler, a leg-spinner who was "in complete control" of his art.

Speaking to Stats Perform, in the wake of Warne's death at the age of 52 on Friday, Fraser said the man who was so often the scourge of England did "untold good" for the sport.

Warne took 708 Test match wickets, a total beaten only by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, and his effervescence and skill level made him a player who transcended cricket.

"He did bring Hollywood to cricket, didn't he?," Fraser said.

"Sat next to Shane Warne, he always had a ball in his hand. He was just going through his ball, the different balls. So like the leg-spinner, the googly, the flipper.

"The control he had over a cricket ball, you just sat there thinking, this guy's a magician. I mean, he's just throwing the thing up, and it just lands straight in his hand while he's talking to you, and he was just in complete control of what he was doing, so the skill level of the man was just beyond belief, really.

"Every ball was an event, that was the thing as well. It was theatre. You stood there at the end of his run-up and then boom. You watched when he had the ball in his hand because you just thought anything is possible, anything could happen.

"Not just a great cricketer, one of the greatest cricketers in the world, he's one of the great sportsmen in the world. He's up there with Michael Jordan and people like that.

"That's the sort of level where he's at, so that's the impact he had on the game. The way he's gone about it, yes, he's made mistakes and, yes, sometimes he's been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. But he's just done untold good for the game of cricket."

Warne's death was a jolt to the global cricket community. The man who became a popular pundit after his playing career ended passed away while on holiday in Thailand, of a suspected heart attack.

Fraser was left stunned, saying: "These things don't happen to Shane Warne, do they? I mean, yes, we know he's got a lifestyle and an existence that is just unimaginable, dashing around the world, but it doesn't happen to Shane.

"I mean, he's sort of bulletproof, he's a force of nature. He's just a character that you can kick and knock down, but he always gets back up and comes back, and is there as bold as brass and as confident and as full of energy in life as he's ever been."

Warne's career was full of highs and some notable lows, including being stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy after a phone sex scandal, and being banned for failing a drugs test, having taken a banned diuretic. He became engaged to actress and model Liz Hurley, and although they later split, Warne's life was for many years spent in the glare of the media spotlight.

Fraser said: "Whether you've played against him or whether you've just followed him as a cricket supporter, his life has been led out there in the open, so I think it's inevitable that everybody feels it because you've seen him make his mistakes, you've seen these wonderful moments, you just know so much about the man. It's hard to believe that there's that much hidden, because it's just all been out there in the newspapers or on the televisions in front of us."

Ben Stokes believes he let both himself and England down during the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.

The all-rounder, who averaged only 23.60 with the bat and took four wickets, said Joe Root’s side have taken some "hard lessons" from the chastening defeat Down Under.

Stokes helped to salvage a draw with a half-century in both innings in the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but England suffered a brutal series hammering.

The vice-captain, who returned in Australia following a break to protect his mental health while also recovering from a finger injury, is determined to make amends in the upcoming series against West Indies.

"Looking back on Australia, we've had some honest reflections not only as a team but individuals as well," the 30-year-old said.

"I personally felt I let the team down with more than just performances, I would have liked to have been in better physical shape.

"When I look back on it, I felt I let myself down, but the thing that really grinds me the most and hurts me the most is that I let a lot of other people down and I never want to feel that way again. 

"Everyone's taken some good hard lessons from Australia."

England travelled to the Caribbean without legendary bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, while head coach Chris Silverwood lost his job after the drubbing in Australia.

Stokes is fully behind captain Joe Root and says there is no point discussing the absence of Anderson and Broad.

"It's not all on the captain. Joe is 100 per cent the man to lead this team forward, and I'll be right behind him every step of the way,” he added.

"There's obviously been a big change with Stuart and Jimmy [being dropped,] but, with all due respect to them, they're not here and what we can concentrate on are the guys who are, and the opportunity they now have.

"We have made a real effort to make sure that from the top, the most experienced guy, Joe, to the guys who haven’t even played yet, we are valued just as much as each other. 

"When it comes to guys who are about to make their debut or haven't played much, there is that extra responsibility on the senior guys to help them through that.

"I don't see it as a negative whatsoever. The only thing for us now is [to be] positive, because there were a lot of negatives in Australia and it was a s*** place to be."

The first Test in the three-match series against West Indies start in Antigua on Tuesday.

Shane Warne, one of the greatest cricketers of all time, has passed away at the age of 52.

Warne's death has left the sporting world in shock. He was a genius with the ball, taking 708 Test wickets across a 15-year career for Australia, and his place among the all-time sporting greats is secure.

He enjoyed a wonderful rivalry with Australia's old enemies, England.

As first impressions go, Warne's in Ashes cricket was about as eye-catching as you could possibly get.  

It was June 4, 1993 and the second day of the series opener between England and Australia at Old Trafford. Having taken five wickets for 45 runs in the morning session to dismiss their rivals for 289, the home side's reply was progressing steadily enough at 80-1. 

However, Warne's introduction into the attack produced one of cricket's most memorable moments and changed the dynamic of the rivalry for over the next decade.

Mike Gatting will certainly never forget it, as the leg-spinner unfurled a delivery that flummoxed the England batsman.

"We understood he was a very talented sportsperson. He liked his surfing, he was a typical sort of Aussie larrikin, as they called them, who could spin the cricket ball," Gatting told BBC 5 Live on Friday, following the confirmation of Warne's passing.

"We didn't know much more about him than that, and in the match before they told him to just bowl his leg-breaks and he didn't bowl his flippers, and topples [top-spinners], and googlies, but when he got down the other end there, I was just trying to watch the ball.

"I knew it was a leg-break and I knew it was going to spin, you could hear it coming through the air from down the other end, and then just at the last yard or so, as a good leg-spinner does, it just drifted in, and it drifted just outside leg stump and just turned out of nowhere, a long, long way.

"I'm quite a wide chap and it got past me as well as everything else and just clipped the off bail, and I was just as dumbfounded as I am now to hear that he's died."

'The Ball of the Century', as it became known, was poetry in slow (bowling) motion. The initial drift appeared to make it look innocuous enough as it veered to pitch outside the line of the right-handed Gatting's leg stump, only to dip, rip and zip beyond his defensive prod, beating the outside edge of the bat before going on to hit off stump. 

It was a stunning opening statement. As if he had cast a spell that day, Warne would go on to dominate against England for the rest of his career. 

Gatting will famously be remembered as the first but plenty more would be mesmerised by Warne, who ended his international career with 708 Test wickets at 25.41. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Sri Lanka's own spin king, has ever managed more. 

The variations – the wrong'uns, flippers, sliders and shooters, or whatever other name Warne came up with for the latest addition to his bowling repertoire – all helped add to his aura. So many batsmen were often done in the mind before he had even released the ball from his right hand.

England suffered more than any other nation. Warne claimed 195 wickets against Australia's greatest rivals at an average of 23.3. 

More than half of that tally came on English soil too (129 at 21.9 in 22 matches), with his numbers against them in Australia impacted by missing the majority of the 1998-99 series due to a right shoulder injury, as well as a further two Tests in 2002-03. In terms of wickets abroad, South Africa sit second on his hit list, Warne picking up 61 there in 12 Tests. 

The young, bright-blond bowler in 1993 went on to finish with 34 scalps during the six-match Ashes, though a strike-rate of a wicket every 77.6 balls was comfortably the highest for any of his four series on English soil.

He picked up four in each innings in Manchester – albeit none with such dramatic effect as the delivery that did for Gatting – then repeated the trick at Lord's in the next Test. While the returns dipped for the remainder of the trip, including just one wicket at Headingley, Australia eased to a 4-1 triumph to retain the urn. 


From that away success towards the end of Allan Border's reign through the captaincy eras of Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, the Australians would maintain their grip on the most famous prize in cricket until 2005, when Michael Vaughan's side worked out that attack was the best form of defence.

The competitive nature of that series – after a lop-sided opener at Lord’s that the tourists won, every other fixture provided sporting drama of the highest quality – seemingly inspired Warne to reach a personal Ashes peak.

No cause was lost when he had the ball that summer, as demonstrated when so nearly rescuing situations in eventual defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, when his side's batting failures left them playing catch-up. In the end, though, his 40 wickets at 19.9 were not enough to spare Australia from slipping to a 2-1 defeat.  

Still, he became just the eighth bowler to take 40 wickets in a series – and the first since 1989 – while striking on average every 37.9 balls. England had managed to win the war despite coming out second best in their battles with Warne. 

His hugely successful English summer helped towards an overall haul of 96 wickets in 2005, comfortably the best return during a Test career that saw him take 70 or more in a calendar year on four occasions.

The last act was to help regain the urn at home in 2006-07, Andrew Flintoff becoming Warne's 195th Ashes scalp when stumped by Adam Gilchrist in Sydney.  The bowler who made the fading art of leg spin fashionable once again had bamboozled England for the final time.

Now, cricket mourns the loss of a rare talent and a true legend.

Shane Warne's death left Mike Gatting in disbelief – almost three decades after the Australia spinner dismissed the England batsman with the so-called Ball of the Century.

The loss of Warne, at the age of 52, sent shock through the cricket world, with Gatting forever closely associated with the man from Victoria.

Former England skipper Gatting was dismissed in sensational style by Warne during the opening Ashes Test at Old Trafford on June 4, 1993, when a seemingly innocuous delivery turned sharply and bowled the bamboozled home batsman.

The delivery veered to pitch outside the line of the right-handed Gatting's leg stump, only to dip, rip and zip beyond his defensive prod, beating the outside edge of the bat before going on to hit off stump.

Warne had already played 11 Tests, but this was his first in England, and the hosts only had an inkling of his talent. His first delivery in an Ashes Test went down in history.

"We understood he was a very talented sportsperson. He liked his surfing, he was a typical sort of Aussie larrikin, as they called them, who could spin the cricket ball," Gatting told BBC 5 Live.

"We didn't know much more about him than that, and in the match before they told him to just bowl his leg-breaks and he didn't bowl his flippers, and topples [top-spinners], and googlies, but when he got down the other end there, I was just trying to watch the ball.

"I knew it was a leg-break and I knew it was going to spin, you could hear it coming through the air from down the other end, and then just at the last yard or so, as a good leg-spinner does, it just drifted in, and it drifted just outside leg stump and just turned out of nowhere, a long, long way.

"I'm quite a wide chap and it got past me as well as everything else and just clipped the off bail, and I was just as dumbfounded as I am now to hear that he's died."

Gatting, now 64, was in his final years as an international batsman. Even with the passing of time, he remains astonished by the way Warne got him out that day.

"I can't believe it, and I couldn't believe it then, and it was just one of those that sort of probably helped him," Gatting said.

"He was a pretty confident bloke already, but I'm sure that gave him a huge amount of confidence and took him to the next level, and he kept going up levels after that."

Reflecting on Warne's death, after a suspected heart attack, Gatting said: "It's been just devastating really, and unbelievable. When you think he's 52, and he's been an absolute legend in the game, and I don't use that word lightly either. It's just unreal.

"We've lost a great cricketer and a great guy. I'm very, very happy to have called him a great friend."

Current England captain Joe Root said his squad, currently on tour in the West Indies, were "shocked and really sad" to hear news of Warne's death.

"My experiences of Shane were of someone who absolutely loves the game of cricket, was always a joy to be around, gave so much energy to the sport," Root said.

"Growing up as a kid he was a massive idol of mine, someone you wanted to emulate. The way he could win a game on his own, his skill level was incredible. But to have the opportunity to spend some time with him and get to know him a little bit, albeit not a lot, it's deeply saddening to hear the news this morning."

Root said watching Warne in the 2005 Ashes, where he shone with 40 wickets despite Australia losing the series 2-1, was "the sort of thing that makes you want to get into the game and play at the highest level".

"You could see his joy and enthusiasm when he played was still there when you got to speak to him," Root said. "He just wanted to see the game played at the peak of its powers. It's just really sad."

To watch the great Shane Warne bowl his mesmerizing leg-spin was pure theatre.

It was poetry in motion to witness the Australia legend come in off his short run before bamboozling batsmen all over the world time and again.

The cricket world is in mourning after Warne died in Thailand at the age of 52.

Not only was he one of the best cricketers of all time, Warne established himself as a sporting icon due to his wizardry with the ball and his infectious personality.

He made a huge impact with his incredible skill, passion for the sport and drive to reach new heights.

There was a swagger about the Victorian, who looked more like a surfer from Bondi Beach than a Test bowler when he emerged on the international stage with bleach-blonde hair and zinc sunscreen smeared on his face.

Warne certainly made waves in a magnificent playing career, with Muttiah Muralitharan the only bowler to have claimed more than his 708 Test scalps from 145 matches.

There were so many highs for the maverick tweaker, a standout being the 'Ball of the Century' to bowl Mike Gatting with a delivery that ripped up from outside leg to strike the off stump in the 1993 Ashes series.

He also claimed an Ashes hat-trick on his home Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1994 and was man of the match when Australia won the 1999 World Cup final against Pakistan after taking 4-33 at Lord's.

Warne loved being on the big stage and he thrived on the pressure, delivering multiple match-winning performances over the years.

There was an aura about him. He was a vibrant personality, a great sport, who knew how to enjoy himself, and far more than just a cricketer.

Off the field, he lived a colourful life and was described as a "rock and roll" cricketer by his commentary colleague Mark Nicholas on Friday.

Warne was stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy in 2000 after a phone-sex scandal involving a British nurse, at a time when he was married.

He was linked with many women, notably coupling up with British actress Liz Hurley to whom he became engaged, although they later split.

Famously, Warne was banned for a year after testing positive for a banned diuretic in February 2003, just prior to Australia beginning their campaign at the Cricket World Cup. He said the pill had been given to him by his mother, flatly denied any intentional wrongdoing, and was soon back to his best once that ban expired.

Warne continued to pass on his wisdom to both young and established players after calling time on his playing career, leaving spinners in particularly transfixed by both his actions and words.

He remained in the game as a coach, mentor and an excellent commentator, bringing an unrivalled energy to his work and play.

It was not only batsmen who had difficulty reading him, as he also experienced success on the poker table.

There was an air of expectation when Warne walked onto the field, entered a room, started a commentary stint or a coaching session.

The many tributes from far and wide for a sporting icon showed the measure of the man who has gone far too soon.

Warne was a superstar, a genius who lived life to the full and is a huge loss.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan expressed disbelief following the death of Shane Warne, describing his Ashes rival as the "greatest ever cricketer".

Warne has died at the age of 52, having been found unresponsive in his villa in Thailand on Friday.

Tributes have flooded in from across the cricketing world, with Sachin Tendulkar, Ian Botham and Ben Stokes among those to post their memories of the Australian superstar.

Warne ranks second for most Test dismissals, with his 708 wickets only bettered by fellow spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, and he claimed 195 victims in Ashes outings alone. He was also a victor in seven such series.

Vaughan and Warne memorably faced off in the 2005 Ashes, with England getting the better of a star-studded line-up before Australia regained the urn in 2006-07.

While the pair were regularly embroiled in a battle on the pitch, Vaughan reflected on the friendship he developed with Warne after the two finished their playing days and moved into the commentary box.

"I can't tell you how hard it is to get this down in words," Vaughan wrote on Instagram. "It just doesn't feel real to be talking about someone who once was an enemy on the pitch to one who became a great friend off it.

"Shane was the greatest ever cricketer but more than that his character lit up every dressing room, comm box, bar, golf club and friendship group. His energy and positivity was beyond anyone I have ever known.

"He was loyal beyond loyal, at a time I needed support he was the first to pick up the phone and offer advice and help, and the utmost support.

"I will never ever forget the warmth he and his family gave me this winter when I was down under for Christmas alone. To say I spent Warney's last Xmas with him and his family is so sad but one I will cherish."

Vaughan fondly recalled how Warne tucked in to lasagne sandwiches while everyone else had a traditional Christmas lunch.

He added: "That's Warney. The superstar, the greatest, friends to world superstars, everyone wanted to be around him, but ultimately he was just a normal guy who could do incredible things.

"Leg spin is the hardest skill in our game and he mastered it. He became a great poker player as he loved gambling, but it was more the competition and trying to put the psych into his opponents that he loved. Just like when he bowled."

Vaughan said his thoughts went out to Warne's parents and his three children.

"We are all thinking of you. I am absolutely gutted to have lost a great friend," Vaughan added. "One thing is for sure heaven will be a lively place now the King has arrived. Love ya Shane."

Shane Warne, the Australia leg-spinner who was one of the greatest bowlers to ever grace a cricket field, has died aged 52 of a suspected heart attack.

The former Victoria and Hampshire player, widely regarded as one of the game's all-time greats, was found unresponsive at his villa in Thailand.

Across a 15-year Test career that stretched from 1992 to 2007, Warne cemented himself as the architect of a leg-spin revival.

His haul of 708 wickets across 145 Test matches is the second-highest number taken by any bowler and just one of several records set across his career. Here, Stats Perform looks at some of his finest feats.

708 - Only one bowler – Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (800) – has ever taken more Test wickets than Warne, who amassed 708.

195 - Warne's haul of 195 Ashes victims means he holds the record for most Test wickets against England.

199 - The spinner had 199 Test innings at the crease as a batsman, hitting 3,154 runs overall at an average of 17.32.

14 - Alec Stewart was Warne's favourite opponent to bowl to in Tests, with the Englishman dismissed 14 times.

99 - Warne's highest score in Test cricket was 99 runs, while his best effort in one-day internationals was 55.

130 - After England, Warne took the most Test wickets against South Africa, with 130 in total.

96 - Warne's most successful year for bowling, numbers-wise, was in 2005 when he took 96 Test wickets, although an Ashes defeat took some shine off that haul. In ODIs, he took a career-high 62 wickets in 1999.

291 - He took 291 wickets for Australia across 193 ODI appearances.

319 - A hefty proportion of Warne's Test wickets came on home turf, with 319 coming his way while playing in Australia, including 15 five-wicket hauls.

129 - In 22 Tests in England, Warne took 129 wickets.

Shane Warne's death at the age of 52 has stunned the world of cricket, and England, who he enjoyed a wonderful Ashes rivalry against, paid tribute.

Warne, who took 708 Test wickets - the second-highest total of all time - passed away in Thailand, with his management confirming the news to Stats Perform on Friday.

The leg-spinner, who moved into commentary following his international retirement in 2007, will go down as an all-time great of the sport.

Of his 708 Test wickets, 195 came against England, across 36 Ashes meetings. Against no other country did Warne take more wickets.

Following the news, England Cricket's official Twitter account posted: "One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius.

"You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne."

Warne bowled one delivery short of 1,792 overs against England, with a remarkable 488 of those being maidens, while he took 11 five-wicket hauls against Australia's greatest rivals, and had 10 wickets across a match on four occasions.

He bowed out of international Test cricket, fittingly, against England in Sydney in 2007, having taken two wickets. Warne's first Ashes appearance came in 1993, when he took eight wickets in a 179-run victory for Australia in Manchester.

England opener Zak Crawley insists he never feared for his Test career despite enduring a "horrible" run of form in 2021.

Crawley was dropped for parts of a year that saw him register just 173 runs at an average of 10.81.

A 77 in Sydney against Australia in January helped England to salvage draw in the fourth Ashes Test and avoid a series whitewash.

Crawley, who turned 24 this month, is hoping to build on that as England play West Indies in three Test matches with a new-look group after eight players were dropped.

"No, I didn't fear it was finished," Crawley told Sky Sports when asked if he was worried about his Test career. "I knew I was young and I always believed in myself.

"It was a horrible year last year in terms of the stats, but I thought it was a bit misleading actually – I felt like I was a bit unlucky with conditions in some places when I got a chance.

"So now when conditions are hopefully in my favour I need to make sure I cash in and make up for that

"You learn a lot more from your failures than your successes and I learned an awful lot about myself last year.

"I think I'm a lot better player for it – there are no certainties in life but I feel good about my game at the moment and hopefully I’ll score good runs in this series

"It still wasn't the runs I wanted but the way that I played [against Australia], I was pleased with. It's given me a platform to kick on from. I feel I understand my game a lot more now, after having a tough year.

"You create your own luck. Obviously, people trusted in me again and I'm looking to repay them and score a lot of runs for them this year and for England in general.

"I think we're going to have a good year and hopefully I can be a big part of that."

The first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium starts on March 8.

England will be led by interim coach Paul Collingwood after Chris Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of the 4-0 Ashes loss.

"There's a lot of excitement about this series, we're loving being here in the Caribbean – it's a great place to travel to and play," added Crawley.

"We're really looking forward to the series and we're a positive group at the moment.

"It's pretty easy [to put the Ashes behind you]. We know what when wrong, we've analysed what we did wrong and we're looking to move forwards now. 

"You learn a lot in general from losing actually and it gives you a chance to bounce back strongly. I think we will during this series and in the coming year."

England captain Joe Root believes there is still a way back for Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and admitted that he is grateful to have maintained his own position after a dire Ashes series.

Anderson and Broad have been outspoken about their omissions from the squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies, with the latter also criticising the fact that he was only informed of the decision via a brief phone call with Interim managing director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

Strauss selected the 16-man squad along with interim coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor, after a 4-0 Ashes defeat led to the departure of England head coach Chris Silverwood.

Despite seeing his experienced team-mates dropped, Root claimed there could be a way back into the fold for the duo.

"I've spoken both to Stuart and Jimmy and they're obviously disappointed and angry. Stuart in particular has voiced that quite publicly," Root said, as reported via The Telegraph.

"You'd expect that. I've got a huge amount of respect for both of them. It's been made very clear, no one is saying this is the end for them. 

"If we're in a position where [Broad and Anderson] can come back into this team, then great, that's only going to strengthen things. No-one's been told that it's the end of the road."

Anderson and Broad have taken a combined 1,177 Test wickets, ranking as the country's two most prolific bowlers of all time in the longest format.

With a number of regulars, such as Jos Buttler and Rory Burns, missing the Windies tour, Root acknowledged he was thankful to keep his place, though he has never lost faith in his own ability.

Indeed, despite England's poor display as a team Down Under, Root enjoyed a stellar 2021, scoring 1,708 runs across 29 Test innings.

 

"It's never nice when you see people that you've worked closely with for a long period of time lose their jobs," Root continued.

"Clearly it was a disappointing tour [in Australia] and we massively underperformed. As Straussy mentioned, [we need] a bit of a reset, and a real chance to take things forward. I'm very grateful that I've got the opportunity to do that as captain.

"It's a real opportunity that we've got to take with both hands. It's obviously a very new-looking squad, and it's a real chance for the guys to step up and really take the chances that are presented to them – me included.

"I didn't waver. I'm very passionate about trying to take this team forward. I'm grateful I've got that opportunity, I really am."

Root posted a batting average of just 32.2 throughout England's third consecutive series defeat in Australia, well down on his career Test average of 49.23, but will now attempt bounce back by leading England to just their second series win in the Caribbean since 1968.

Joe Root will continue as England's Test captain at least for the upcoming tour of the West Indies, interim managing director Andrew Strauss has confirmed.

Root's position as skipper was thought to be under threat in the wake of England's crushing 4-0 Ashes series defeat to Australia.

That embarrassment proved the final straw for much-maligned head coach Chris Silverwood and managing director Ashley Giles, who were both dismissed this week.

There have been plenty of calls from fans and pundits alike for Root to also be removed from his position, though it would appear he is safe for the time being.

In his first news conference since temporarily taking over from Giles, Strauss said: "Having spoken to [Root], it is absolutely clear the extent of his commitment to taking this England cricket team forward. He has got incredible motivation and energy to do that.

"He is bruised, hugely disappointed by what went on in the Ashes – that goes without saying and many others are in the same boat – but he has the respect of the players, they all play for him and obviously he sets a magnificent example both on and off the field.

"I'm very happy to give him my support, and make sure that we've got the right sort of structure around him to take the pressure off him and allow him to do his job on the pitch."

Graham Thorpe, who operated as Silverwood's assistant, has not been so fortunate.

A statement confirmed the former England batsman "has left his position" with immediate effect.

Strauss said: "I'd like to thank Graham for his work over many years on the England coaching staff and wish him the best for the future."

England are due to begin their three-Test tour of West Indies on March 8.

Chris Silverwood has been sacked as England's head coach following their dismal Ashes campaign, it has been confirmed.

An interim replacement will be appointed for the upcoming Test tour of the West Indies, which gets under way in Antigua on March 8. 

Silverwood's exit came a day after managing director of England men's cricket Ashley Giles left his post, with the decisions taken following an ECB review of performances in Australia. 

England succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to their Ashes rivals, with significant questions asked of their selections and batting. 

"During his time in the role, Chris has given absolutely everything to make a success of it. He is a man of great integrity, who players and staff alike have enjoyed working with," said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison. 

"Under Chris, England men's white ball teams have been ranked first and second in the world while he also led the Test team to a number of series wins including away in South Africa and Sri Lanka. 

"He has led the England men's team with great resilience and empathy through an incredibly challenging period for English cricket, and he deserves our sincere thanks and gratitude. 

"In the coming days Andrew Strauss will appoint a caretaker coach for the tour of the West Indies and will then consider the appropriate coaching structures to help England move forwards." 

Silverwood said: "It's been an absolute honour to be England head coach, and I'm extremely proud to have worked alongside our players and staff. I want to thank them all for the hard work and commitment they have given during my time in the role and I wish them all the very best moving forward. 

"The last two years have been very demanding but I have really enjoyed my time with the team and working with Rooty [Joe Root, Test captain] and Morgs [Eoin Morgan, white-ball captain], and I am very proud of this group considering the challenges. 

"I leave with fond memories and I am now looking forward to spending some quality time at home with my family and embracing the next chapter."

Silverwood had been in the role since October 2019, having replaced Cricket World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss.

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