England vs New Zealand: Ben Stokes pays touching tribute to Graham Thorpe before first Test as captain

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England vs New Zealand: Ben Stokes pays touching tribute to Graham Thorpe before first Test as captain
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Ahead of his first match as England’s official Test captain, Ben Stokes took off the traditional blazer to reveal a touching tribute to former batter and coach Graham Thorpe, who fell seriously ill last month.

Stokes ditched the navy blazer and wore a one-off playing shirt with Thorpe’s name and cap number, 564, on the back, rather than his own.

Thorpe, who played 100 Tests between 1993 and 2005, was England’s batting coach as recently as this winter’s Ashes and was close with many of the players.

On May 10, the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) revealed that Thorpe, who had recently been named head coach of Afghanistan, “had fallen seriously ill” and was “currently in hospital receiving treatment”, adding that “his prognosis is unclear at this stage”.

There has been no official update on the 52-year-old’s condition since.

Stokes lost the toss, with New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson unsurprisingly opting to bat first. They are without the injured Henry Nicholls, but did select Trent Boult, who only arrived in London on Monday having played in Sunday’s IPL final. Spinner Ajaz Patel was also selected, with Neil Wagner and Matt Henry left out.

England have handed a debut to the seamer Matt Potts, who was presented with his cap by Steve Harmison, another former Durham fast bowler.

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