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February 21, 2001
Middlesex have said that they had no alternative but to release Mark Ramprakash from the final year of his contract after the player made it clear he was not willing to sign a new contract when his expired at the end of next summer.
Rumours that Ramprakash has not exactly been a harmonious influence in the dressing-room were given credibility by comments from the club that Angus Fraser, the captain, was keen not to have an unhappy player as part of the side. "I made my mind up straight away that if he did not want to be there, I did not want him to be there," Fraser said. "The last thing I want is a player remaining against his will. I could only see problems arising from that."
"Given that it was his benefit year, there was the feeling within the committee that there had been an element of stringing us along," Vinny Codrington, the club's secretary, said. "The committee then dealt with the matter in its own time, and the decision was finally taken on Tuesday night to release him.
"Mark will say he has given Middlesex wonderful service - and he's right - but Middlesex have given him good service and have looked after him through thick and thin."
Behind the scenes there are far less guarded views being expressed, with Ramprakash being described as "a singular character" and "self-obsessed".
Phil Edmonds, the county chairman and a former team-mate of Ramprakash, made clear his own position. "Our position is that we are prepared to release him, but we are very disappointed to see him go because we have supported him right through his career. Obviously, he is a very fine player. Mark says he is leaving to further his England ambitions. I would have thought he could achieve that as the fulcrum of our batting line-up rather than at another county.
"Surely the England selectors would give a great deal of attention to his character and determination in reviving Middlesex rather than taking the decision to jump ship. What this means for cricket I am not sure. There has been a tremendous amount of debate in committee about the Ramprakash decision. Many feel aggrieved by his lack of loyalty after they had supported his benefit year so enthusiastically. I feel very sorry that he's going, but I wish him well."
The request to leave Middlesex first came last November, at the end of what turned out to be a lucrative benefit year. He had originally asked for a three-year extension to his contract but had subsequently changed his mind and asked to leave.
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