“I think he can come back again and play for England definitely but he’s very clear those little adjustments are going to help him to stay at the crease longer,” said Thorpe. “Like any player they get to a point and I said ‘you’ve played 30 Test matches and you average 30. So we want you to be doing more, to be better than that as a player’. So we’ve had discussions with him – does he need a major overhaul of his technique or just to tinker with things? He needs to do the simple things better. So can he calm things down with his movements and everything – we’ve been talking him through that.
“When players get a little bit of success they then think my way is the right way. And there’s a balance to it. You can see certain things. I said to him ‘the best bowlers in the world are going to analyse your technique and the right-hand column is going to tell you whether you’re getting it right or not. Now we’ve seen he’s got a good fighting character, so I know that. But at the same time you need a technique and temperament at the highest level.”
Thorpe will have a hands-on role this week in charge of England for the fourth Test at the SCG, where he spent two years working for New South Wales as a batting coach playing second team cricket with a young David Warner and Steve Smith, and could be a candidate for the top job if Silverwood is moved on.
He would not be drawn on whether Burns will make an immediate return, and at this stage it looks unlikely. England know the Ashes have gone. They have refocused on trying to salvage something from the tour, such as a younger player like Haseeb Hameed toughing out his current poor form and producing a score. Hameed has retreated further into his crease as the series has gone on, prodding at the ball with hands in front of his body which was always the concern before he came to Australia.
“We have imparted to the players that you can’t change the last 12 days of cricket, but you can influence what the next two games hold for you. Some of our young players are getting an education and if they didn’t know before, they understand now how tough Test cricket is. Not just on the field, but off it,” said Thorpe. “Haseeb is seeing the reality of Test cricket. He has to find the balance between staying positive in his mind, his attitude and learning how you throw punches back at bowlers.”
Thorpe accepts he carries responsibility as batting coach for England’s failings. The highest individual score is 82, they have been bowled out for 147, 185 and 68 in this series and managed two partnerships above 61. The county game is inevitably blamed for not producing players ready for Test cricket, and the fact Joe Root is the last debutant to average above 40 since 2012 is damning.
“County cricket is what it is. You’ve got to lift players out of there, then educate them into international cricket,” said Thorpe. “When I first came in we were trying to make a hit on white ball cricket. Now we have to look at it pretty hard in Test cricket, if we care about it enough.”