Michael Vaughan has explained why England opted to pick Ian Bell in favour of Graham Thorpe for their ultimately victorious 2005 Ashes squad.
Although when the omission of Thorpe was confirmed at the start of the series, England head selector David Graveney had said that the choice to drop Thorpe for the uncapped Kevin Pietersen was “the most difficult decision” that he had been involved in as selector, Vaughan now says that the real decision was picking between Thorpe and Bell, not Thorpe and Pietersen.
Going into the 2005 Ashes, Pietersen had already built up a formidable ODI record – he averaged 87.33 from his first 21 ODIs – meaning that either of Thorpe, who was a veteran of 100 Tests going in the 2005 Ashes, or the 23-year-old Bell would have to make way for him in the middle-order for the first Test at Lord’s.
Speaking on the Yorkshire Cricket: Covers Off podcast, Vaughan explained that his desire for a more youthful side tipped the scales in Bell’s favour.
“McGrath and Warne had the wool over England for many, many Ashes series, [they’re] obviously legends of the game,” said Vaughan. “I’ve always been a big believer that it’s humans against humans. What we tried to achieve was a younger team that didn’t have any baggage, that didn’t have any scars from previous Ashes series, so when you think of our last selection, Pietersen was always going to play because of the way that he played, Bell got picked ahead of Graham Thorpe.
“Thorpe was a legend in my eyes but he had a little bit of a dodgy back and we talked to him long and hard about whether he was right. I think he would have had a go at it, but at the back of my mind I always wanted a team that didn’t have any baggage. I wanted to have a young set of players so that if it went wrong, which it did in the first game, I could look them in the eyes and say, ‘That doesn’t matter,’ as much as we all know it does.
“If you’ve got senior players who’ve been there and done that and been 1-0 down before, I’m not too sure about whether we’d have been able to bounce back.”