England news December 29, 2012

Ramprakash and Croft given MBEs

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mark Ramprakash, Robert Croft and the former England captain Mike Denness have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Ramprakash and Croft, who both retired from first-class cricket in 2012, have been awarded MBEs while Denness, who played 28 Tests for England, has gained an OBE for services to sport.

Ramprakash ended a 25-year career at the age of 42 having amassed 114 first-class hundreds, to become one of 25 players with a hundred centuries, and finished with 35,659 first-class runs at an average of 53.14.

That success was rarely translated to the Test arena where he averaged 27.32 across his 52 Tests, but on the domestic scene he was often without equal for Middlesex and Surrey. He has recently returned to Middlesex as batting coach.

"I think this MBE eclipses all that I have achieved in the game," he told Sky Sports News. "It came straight out of the blue. I think for most players representing your country is the biggest moment in your life.

"When you experience winning Test matches, there is little other feeling that comes close to that. I have been lucky to play for so long and achieve things throughout my career like the 100 first-class centuries. But this is an acknowledgment of your entire career.

"I have been committed to cricket for 25 years. That is a very long time but I enjoyed every minute of it. To have that acknowledgment from someone outside of what you did is an immensely proud moment."

Like Ramprakash, Croft, the Glamorgan offspinner, called time on his career at the age of 42 after scoring more than 12,000 runs and claiming more than 1100 wickets at first-class level. He played 21 Tests and 50 ODIs for England, but one of his most famous moments came with the bat when he helped save the Old Trafford Test against South Africa in 1998. He retired from international cricket in 2004 and continued to be a key part of Glamorgan cricket.

"It is a great honour and a privilege to receive an MBE," Croft said. "It's fantastic to receive recognition of years of hard work, and especially in a team sport it's good when an individual receives an accolade.

"It's not something that you set out to get, but it is wonderful when it comes along. I don't think it has sunk in properly. I'm still just a Carmarthenshire boy who did quite well in cricket.

"I count myself lucky that I was able to play for as long as I did and I'm grateful for the support I have received over the years from team-mates, coaches and everyone at Glamorgan Cricket.

"However I don't think I could have achieved what I did without such supportive family and friends. I owe a lot to my parents, Susan and Malcolm, my grandparents, my wife Marie and children Callum and Kara Beth."

Denness, meanwhile, is the only Scotsman to have captained England and led the team in 19 of his 28 Tests although it was a controversial tenure, particularly during the 1974-75 tour of Australia. However, his 188 at the MCG was, at the time, the highest score by an England captain in Australia. In his first-class career, where he played for Kent and Essex, he scored more than 25,000 runs. He later became an ICC match referee and president of Kent.

"I never expected this and it really is a great honour," Denness said. "This completes a thrilling year, during which I have served as Kent Cricket president. It really has been outstanding, there has been so much commitment from everybody; I thoroughly enjoyed Canterbury Week and all that it involved, and I will treasure the memories for the rest of my life."

David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said: "The award to Mike Denness is a fitting recognition for a long and distinguished career in cricket which has seen him fulfil a variety of key roles.

"Mark Ramprakash was among the most supremely gifted batsmen of his generation and can be justifiably proud of being one of an elite band of cricketers who have scored 100 first-class hundreds.

"Very few cricketers achieve the feat of scoring more than 10,000 first-class runs and taking more than 1,000 first-class wickets as Robert Croft did for Glamorgan during a 23-year career. His honour is richly deserved."