July 5, 2012

England's flawed technician

David Lloyd
However much his domestic record may glitter, in the end we have to ask why a player with so much going for him produced so little where it matters most of all - on the Test match stage
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If Mark Ramprakash had taken to the Test arena as he later took to the dance floor then anyone assessing his 25-year playing career would happily follow in the footsteps of television judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Co by awarding a perfect ten.

But as we are talking strictly cricket, on the day "Ramps" is set to announce his retirement, the jury is likely to agonise long and hard before declaring itself unable to deliver a unanimous verdict.

For the uninitiated, Ramprakash swept aside all rivals to win the 2006 edition of the popular British television programme Strictly Come Dancing, earning himself a host of new admirers in the process. He had seemed a most unlikely recruit for a competition that invites those taking part to fall flat on their faces (literally), but by all accounts, people who know their sambas from their salsas said the then 37-year-old was a star turn from the very first rehearsal.

Some 15 years earlier, most of us who saw Ramprakash make his Test debut - against West Indies in Leeds - thought precisely the same thing. True, the Headingley were no more substantial than a brace of 27s but the poise he showed at the crease (against a fiery attack containing Curtly Ambrose, Patrick Patterson, Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh) convinced a majority of onlookers that we were witnessing the start of something big.

In fact, we were witnessing the beginning of something pretty much unfathomable. Technically and physically, the boy from Bushey, Hertfordshire, had everything and more that was needed to make a huge impression at the highest level. And yet, when England discarded him for the umpteenth and final time after a personally dire tour of New Zealand in 2002, his record reeked of under-achievement: an average of 27 across 52 Tests with just two centuries.

Given stats like that, it may seem curious he played as much as he did. But four coaches (Keith Fletcher, Ray Illingworth, David Lloyd and Duncan Fletcher) and four captains (Graham Gooch, Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain) all hoped they might be the one for whom Ramps would bloom, thereby converting consistently excellent county form into a mountain of Test runs.

Statistics seldom tell the whole story, of course, and while Ramprakash's overall figures for England make sorry reading, it must be remembered that in 12 Tests against Australia - Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and the rest - he averaged a far from shabby 42. On top of that, one of his two hundreds was scored against the then all-conquering Aussies (at The Oval, in 2001).

But to seize on those last couple of facts while trying to gloss over the others would be an exercise in straw-clutching: as an international cricketer, Ramprakash achieved only a fraction of what should have been. Just look at his domestic achievements, first for Middlesex and then Surrey. He registered 1000 or more first-class runs for a season on 20 occasions, went beyond 2000 three times, and in 2006, when many an unofficial selector wanted him recalled by England, his Championship average for Surrey was a staggering 105.28.

That is special; very special. And there is more: his first-class average closes at 53.14 and he hangs up his bat, a couple of months short of his 43rd birthday, with 114 centuries in the bag. We could talk about his limited-overs performances, too, but enough of figures.

We should celebrate Ramprakash's achievements and agree with former England captain Michael Vaughan when he says that the man in question is "the best technician the English game has had in the past 20 years".

But, sooner or later, we have to return to the subject of why a player with so much going for him produced so little where it matters most of all - on the Test match stage. And that is where members of the jury are likely to disagree.

As well as the most technically accomplished player of his generation, Ramprakash was also the most intense. Sublime technique came with something more restricting

Some will lay a fair proportion of the blame at the feet of various selectors, coaches and supremos who chopped and changed the England team throughout the 1990s, meaning that players like Ramprakash and Graeme Hick - that other obviously unfulfilled talent who made his debut at precisely the same time - seldom felt secure in the side. It is strange to recall that Ramprakash was dropped for, among others, the likes of Chris Adams and Darren Maddy in the days when consistency of selection was hard to find.

Others may point out that Ramprakash had more than enough chances to shine and simply did not have what it takes temperamentally to cope with pressure at the highest level. For sure, he beat himself up unmercifully after a failure. By way of just one example, this observer well remembers seeing our subject skipping long and hard under a ferocious sun in South Africa as if to punish himself for a soft dismissal. Dressing-room tantrums were also commonplace as he forever searched for perfection. As well as the most technically accomplished player of his generation, he must also have been the most intense. Sublime technique came with something more restricting.

But perhaps, as is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between; maybe Ramprakash was just around at the wrong time, internationally speaking. England were a poor Test outfit for most of the 1990s, and while the likes of Gooch and Atherton managed to flourish in the face of so much adversity, an intense character like Ramprakash became simply too desperate to succeed and too worried about looking over his shoulder.

You play the cards you are dealt and Ramprakash could and should have used his hand a lot better. But if he were now 22, rather than 42, and a new member of this current England set-up, where the team is everything and competition for places is accepted as a force for good rather than feared, then we might be looking today at a champion Test batsman in the making. And to hell with the dancing.

David Lloyd is a former cricket correspondent for the London Evening Standard who witnessed all 52 of Mark Ramprakash's England matches and a fair proportion of his 114 first-class centuries

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RohanMarkJay on July 7, 2012, 22:58 GMT

    Mark Ramprakash part of thatgolden generation of good young cricket talent that came out England in the late 1980s.Of course the others were Graeme Hick, Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton,Nasser Hussain,M Bicknell,Chris Lewis, Devon Malcolm, David Lawrence, Angus Fraser, Phil Tufnell, Robin Smith etc. Ramprakash and Co. could have been number 1 or two in the 1990s. Instead it was one of English crickets worst decades. This was solely due to the bad cricket management at the time. You wonder what the Australians would have done with talent like that with their cricket academies or what the current England set up would have done with a young Mark Ramprakash.We will never how good Ramprakash would have been at test level because he was never given a chance or guided properly by the set up at the time. They wasted a lot of that young late 1980s talent as the 1990s proved. Ramprakash technically was the best of the bunch. Mark's story is an indictment of English cricket in the late 80s and 1990s.

  • Beefy_B on July 7, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    Another factor for his poor test average would be the quality of bowlers Ramps had to face during his test match days. Maybe if he were 22 and starting out know he would be much more successful.

  • 5wombats on July 7, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Lets get a few myths out of the way about how England were back in the late 80's and throughout the 1990's. I remember sitting with the members in front of the Pavillion at the Oval in 1989 V Australia (a horrible wet affair...). It was Atherton's second match as an England player - but it speaks volumes for how things were that even before Atherton was ever selected for England he was being touted as a future England Captain. Amazing and he hadn't even played for England! So - that was the "Old Boy"/Club/shambles selection (if you can call it that) network that Mark Ramprakash had to somehow find his way in. Read books by former players about the Atherton years (eg. Hussains book is particularly revealing). It's all there. Regarding Atherton's record - gee, everyones record is great if you take out the ducks. Fact is - Atherton, Ramps, Hick - they were the best we had and they weren't as good as what the Aussies and West Indians had. Ramps was shabily treated too.Thems the rules.

  • jr1972 on July 7, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    English cricket was a shambles matched only by the ignorance and disgraceful attitude of Ray Illingworth and his fellow cronies. We should be talking about a great test career in the case of both Ramps and Hick. Read any autobiography from some of the greats of that era and they are in total agreement.

  • numpty-nigel on July 7, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    I think Mark Ramprakash celebrates his hundred at The Oval during the 2001 Ashes.

    Only to be removed from the entire 16 man touring squad to South Africa in the following series says a lot!

    I do not think it was a lack of talent, maybe a personality clash and politics with the England management!

  • SaracensBob on July 7, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    Fact is England wasted a whole slew of genuine, and potential, talent in the dark days of the '90s. Ramps and Hick are the obvious examples, Crawley another. But think also of the likes of Craig White, the Hollioake brothers and Devon Malcolm. Fortunately the powers that be saw the error of their ways and introduced the changes that have got us to where we are today. Talent recognised, nurtured and encouraged to blossom. Hats off to the 'men in suits' for making the changes.

  • mikey76 on July 6, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    5Wombats. England were crap in the 90's but that had little to do with Atherton. Gooch was not much more succesful as captain either. It was the selectors and the system at fault not a thoroughly decent and brave batsman like Atherton.

  • johnathonjosephs on July 6, 2012, 20:00 GMT

    Three words: Flat Track Bully. This is what separates the first class players from the test players.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 6, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    FreddyforPrimeMinister and Trueman's Ghost: fair enough, and I accept the point about Stewart's batting average being affected by when he was designated wicketkeeper, indeed I remember discussing that with TG on another discussion. While I agree with Wombats that the 1990s were a decade of disappointing underachievement for England, I can't really agree with his criticisms of Atherton and Stewart; I'd like to have seen Atherton be more aggressive at times (Sydney 1995 being a case in point) but I think there were a lot of things wrong with English cricket in these years besides the captain. JeffG agree with your points and accept that Bradman's average increases more in absolute terms if you remove single figure scores, but what is striking about Hick in particular is that his average increases more in relative terms, i.e., by about 50% (from 31 to 48), whereas Bradman's and Lara's (and Ramprakash's) increase by around a quarter. Partly that's just a reflection of Hick's inconsistency

  • StJohn on July 6, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    A few comments here about how averages of players like Hick, Atherton etc increase quite a bit if you eliminate their ducks or single figure scores. It seems to me that doesn't inform us very much: by definition, if you eliminate a player's worst scores his/her average will increase. A more worthwhile analysis is comparing averages against different Test teams. As such, Ramprakash's average of 42 against Australia in Tests is interesting. But the article is probably right that the reason for Ramps not doing so well in Tests is a combination of factors: his own psychology and the poor management and selection policy of England in the 1990s. I think it's right that had Hick, Ramps etc been playing today, the way players are managed might have suited them better if they made it into the team (as would the relative lack of killer strike bowlers at international level now compared to the 1990s and flatter Test pitches). Pity Ramps wasn't selected again in 2005-07 though.

  • RohanMarkJay on July 7, 2012, 22:58 GMT

    Mark Ramprakash part of thatgolden generation of good young cricket talent that came out England in the late 1980s.Of course the others were Graeme Hick, Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton,Nasser Hussain,M Bicknell,Chris Lewis, Devon Malcolm, David Lawrence, Angus Fraser, Phil Tufnell, Robin Smith etc. Ramprakash and Co. could have been number 1 or two in the 1990s. Instead it was one of English crickets worst decades. This was solely due to the bad cricket management at the time. You wonder what the Australians would have done with talent like that with their cricket academies or what the current England set up would have done with a young Mark Ramprakash.We will never how good Ramprakash would have been at test level because he was never given a chance or guided properly by the set up at the time. They wasted a lot of that young late 1980s talent as the 1990s proved. Ramprakash technically was the best of the bunch. Mark's story is an indictment of English cricket in the late 80s and 1990s.

  • Beefy_B on July 7, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    Another factor for his poor test average would be the quality of bowlers Ramps had to face during his test match days. Maybe if he were 22 and starting out know he would be much more successful.

  • 5wombats on July 7, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Lets get a few myths out of the way about how England were back in the late 80's and throughout the 1990's. I remember sitting with the members in front of the Pavillion at the Oval in 1989 V Australia (a horrible wet affair...). It was Atherton's second match as an England player - but it speaks volumes for how things were that even before Atherton was ever selected for England he was being touted as a future England Captain. Amazing and he hadn't even played for England! So - that was the "Old Boy"/Club/shambles selection (if you can call it that) network that Mark Ramprakash had to somehow find his way in. Read books by former players about the Atherton years (eg. Hussains book is particularly revealing). It's all there. Regarding Atherton's record - gee, everyones record is great if you take out the ducks. Fact is - Atherton, Ramps, Hick - they were the best we had and they weren't as good as what the Aussies and West Indians had. Ramps was shabily treated too.Thems the rules.

  • jr1972 on July 7, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    English cricket was a shambles matched only by the ignorance and disgraceful attitude of Ray Illingworth and his fellow cronies. We should be talking about a great test career in the case of both Ramps and Hick. Read any autobiography from some of the greats of that era and they are in total agreement.

  • numpty-nigel on July 7, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    I think Mark Ramprakash celebrates his hundred at The Oval during the 2001 Ashes.

    Only to be removed from the entire 16 man touring squad to South Africa in the following series says a lot!

    I do not think it was a lack of talent, maybe a personality clash and politics with the England management!

  • SaracensBob on July 7, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    Fact is England wasted a whole slew of genuine, and potential, talent in the dark days of the '90s. Ramps and Hick are the obvious examples, Crawley another. But think also of the likes of Craig White, the Hollioake brothers and Devon Malcolm. Fortunately the powers that be saw the error of their ways and introduced the changes that have got us to where we are today. Talent recognised, nurtured and encouraged to blossom. Hats off to the 'men in suits' for making the changes.

  • mikey76 on July 6, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    5Wombats. England were crap in the 90's but that had little to do with Atherton. Gooch was not much more succesful as captain either. It was the selectors and the system at fault not a thoroughly decent and brave batsman like Atherton.

  • johnathonjosephs on July 6, 2012, 20:00 GMT

    Three words: Flat Track Bully. This is what separates the first class players from the test players.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 6, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    FreddyforPrimeMinister and Trueman's Ghost: fair enough, and I accept the point about Stewart's batting average being affected by when he was designated wicketkeeper, indeed I remember discussing that with TG on another discussion. While I agree with Wombats that the 1990s were a decade of disappointing underachievement for England, I can't really agree with his criticisms of Atherton and Stewart; I'd like to have seen Atherton be more aggressive at times (Sydney 1995 being a case in point) but I think there were a lot of things wrong with English cricket in these years besides the captain. JeffG agree with your points and accept that Bradman's average increases more in absolute terms if you remove single figure scores, but what is striking about Hick in particular is that his average increases more in relative terms, i.e., by about 50% (from 31 to 48), whereas Bradman's and Lara's (and Ramprakash's) increase by around a quarter. Partly that's just a reflection of Hick's inconsistency

  • StJohn on July 6, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    A few comments here about how averages of players like Hick, Atherton etc increase quite a bit if you eliminate their ducks or single figure scores. It seems to me that doesn't inform us very much: by definition, if you eliminate a player's worst scores his/her average will increase. A more worthwhile analysis is comparing averages against different Test teams. As such, Ramprakash's average of 42 against Australia in Tests is interesting. But the article is probably right that the reason for Ramps not doing so well in Tests is a combination of factors: his own psychology and the poor management and selection policy of England in the 1990s. I think it's right that had Hick, Ramps etc been playing today, the way players are managed might have suited them better if they made it into the team (as would the relative lack of killer strike bowlers at international level now compared to the 1990s and flatter Test pitches). Pity Ramps wasn't selected again in 2005-07 though.

  • mikey76 on July 6, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    I think if he was just told "Ramps you have 5 tests to prove yourself, no pressure" then who knows. Today's environment where players mental states are assessed as much as technique would have been far more condusive to the likes of Ramprakash, Hick and Maynard.

  • 5wombats on July 6, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    @MartinC - just saying what I think. England were cr..p in the 1990's - & Atherton was in the centre of that. Just an observation. Considering that he was one the least succesful England captains in my lifetime, he certainly seems to have done alright for himself nevertheless.

  • on July 6, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    There is a lot of discussion about how Ramps failed for England, but I well remember when he was on 99 first class hundreds and how many times he failed to reach 100 before he eventually did. Sadly, I suspect that nerves and temperament were his biggest problems hence why he failed in the test arena. Just another flat track bully really.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 6, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    @JeffG - you raise a really fascinating point. I can see the logic in it though I also wonder if a disproportionate number of these "not out" batsmen then get out in the nervous 90's or shortly after reaching their 100, or maybe taking additional risks when left to shepherd the tail? Aren't these statistical questions one of the reasons why we all love the game of cricket so much?!

  • sirvivfan on July 6, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Basically England system failed to get best out of Rampkrash. The system and management were notoriously difficult to get on with particularly with Ramps background and upbringing. This is still true to a certain extent today....to many players from certain background still struggle and find themselves under continuos pressure and suffer from poor selection policy.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 6, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost - I agree about the difference between an average of 27 and 37 - this was the first point I made! I also agree with what you say about Stewart's average being affected by him keeping wicket. I would disagree however about Bell - I think he's a perfect comparison with the careers of Ramps and Hick. Yes, he started his career off ok but that was thanks to a 70 on debut against WI in an innings where even Giles, Hoggard and Harmison made 52, 38 and 36no, then made two not out scores of 65 and 162 against a very weak Bangladesh attack, which massively skewed his early career averages. In the following 2005 Ashes series however, he averaged 17.10 in 10 innings. In the 90's he'd have been dropped immediately after, (if not during) that series. My point is that if Ramps and Hick had been given the same constant vote of confidence from England, I'm sure they would eventually have flourished as Bell has done.

  • on July 6, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    I think the time when Ramps might have really come good was with the 2006/2007 tour of Australia - he had a good record and with all the injuries an experienced batsmen would have been a great boon to the side, and a bit of a leveller for Fred and Dunc.

  • Herbet on July 6, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Ramprakash is even more of a puzzler than Hick. Hick at least did have a run of a few good years in the mid 90's that got his average into the 40's. Ramprakash never got out the 20's I don't think. There is no doubt that the way aspiring English test cricketers were treated in the 90's was scandalous, and if he were around now Ramps will to win, and will for perfection would be exploited as a positive. There is also little chance nowadays that England would go into a test match against possibly the fastest bowling foursome of all time, containing two of the very greatest bowlers of all time, and another who was also great in is own right, with two lads on debut!!

  • JeffG on July 6, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    One of the more amazing things about Ramprakash was the way he transformed his record from "merely" great with Middlesex (average 50.48) to scarcely believable with Surrey (average 67.96) I know that the Oval pitches were/are generally more batsman friendly than those at Lords, but this was truly amazing. I think it may have had a lot to do with the fact that his England career was basically over by that point and he could relax and fully exploit his talents as a batsman. One final thought, just imgaine what he might have achieved if he'd moved to Somerset instead of Surrey - he averaged 113 on the shirt-fronts of Taunton!

  • duckrule on July 6, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    In 1991 Ramps spent many hours at the crease against the best attack of the time, learning about Test cricket. He then goes to New Zealand where I expected him to reap the benefit. Instead he got a duck in an insignificant side game, and didn't make the Test side, left out for some mediocrity with a tenth of his commitment and ability. No wonder he lost confidence and was forever looking over his shoulder. As for Hicky, he was an obvious shoe in at no 6 in the order, and use as the second spinner when needed. What these guys needed was to be left in the side for 2 years with clearly defined roles. Then we'd have seen the full reach of their talents at Test level. Truth is the selectors spent too much time listening to the media.

  • keptalittlelow on July 6, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Mark Ramprakash will always be remembered as a great batsman no matter what his test averages state. He was unlucky, he was not given any support when he needed most, he was left to swim or sink. I am sure Stuart Broad would not be bowling for England today if he was not given the support he needed when he was at his most vulnerable, well Mark Ramprakash was not so lucky.

  • JeffG on July 6, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister & AdrianVanDenStael - if you remove the lowest scores from any cricketers record that their average will obviously go up, and actually the best players tend to benefit more - for example, if you remove Lara's single figure scores, his average goes from 52.89 to 71.68. And Bradman's is even more remarkable - by removing his single figure scores, he goes from 99.94 to 124.38. One of the interesting things about cricket is that, whatever score a player is on, he's statistically likley to score more extra runs than his overall average. For example, if a player averages 40 and has already scored 20, then statistically, he is likely to score more than 40 extra runs. This is why, counter-intutively, a not out generally has a negative impact on a batsmans average (he is missing out on the opportunity to score even more runs.)

  • TheDoctor394 on July 6, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    I'm not saying this excuses Mark Ramprakash for his disappointing test returns, but it seems to be overlooked that, on at least three occasions (I think), he finished on 50+ not out while the tail collapsed around him, so that wouldn't have helped his cause.

  • RajasH on July 6, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Look at the current status, there are so many support staff available to support the players in all aspects of the game physical,mental, technique etc etc. The pitches are batsman's paradise the bowling not so fearsome as compared to Ramps' time. The England team is as a unit much better than at Ramps' time. In addition he was carrying the burden as the only Asian representative in the England test team.

    he is one of the greatest batsman technically but poor guy didn't fulfill his full potential

  • jackiethepen on July 6, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Ramps was a very fine batsman - and it was a joy to watch him bat - but the comparison with Bell is fanciful. When Bell was dropped in 2009 he had an average of 40 and 8 centuries. There was every reason to back him. Bell was always a strong candidate and his so called fragile temperament was an invention of the media. They just didn't think he had the right 'aura'. Bell has proved since he is a wonderful world class batsman not always given the right breaks by the management. He should have been moved above Colly earlier. He should have opened in ODIs earlier. But he has benefited from England being a settled team. Who hasn't?

  • davidlister on July 6, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    Whatever the content of the article, to have "flawed" in the headline, and "unfulfilled talent" in the first leadline is so disrespectful. After a terrific career and excellent behaviour throughout it is dire that you choose to present his retirement in this way. I wonder how many people involved in the production of this piece will have a quarter the career of Ramps? Big misjudgement, Cricinfo.

  • JG2704 on July 6, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost on (July 06 2012, 06:58 AM GMT) I thought Eng did drop Bell 3 or 4 years ago after a rough patch but then brought him back , although they have stuck with him this time around

  • BellCurve on July 6, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    Ramprakash's career overlaps with the careers of Stewart, Atherton, Hussain, Thorpe, Butcher and Hick. Those players collectively averaged 34.32 in the matches they played alongside Ramprakash. That shows conclusively that Ramprakash played in the most difficult of conditions. He also had to deal with the indecisiveness of the England selectors, and the unyielding personalities of senior players such as Atherton, Stewart and Hussain. The same applies to Hick. England squandered two of the greatest cricket talents to have emerged in the last 50 years through a toxic mix of inflexible leadership, haughtiness, short-sightedness and a fundamental lack of scientific insight.

  • MartinC on July 6, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    @5wombats I'm surprised at your comment re Atherton being "bent on making himself look good". Thats not my impression of him at all. For years he along with Stewart and Throrpe held Englands batting together and he bore the burden of captaining a very mediocre England side well. He played most of the second half of his career palpably unfit with his chronic back condition and only got on the pitch at all with the benefit of pain killers and suppositories - if he tended to the grumpy that alone would have been good reason!

    How do you perceive him to have been trying to make himself look good?

    As to Ramps great County player - and I mean truly great. He failed at International level through lack of self belief and wanting to succeed perhaps too much.

  • Truemans_Ghost on July 6, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    @ Adrian annd Freddie, although I don't strongly disagree with your points, i have a few issues with your examples. There is a lot of difference between a 27 average and a 37 average and Stewart averaged in the mid 40s as a top order batsman- his time as a keeper took his average down to where it ended up. Bel is also a bit of an imperfect example. if I recall correctly, he had an good start to his test career, it was a little way in that he started having problems - not helped by the suggestons that the runs he did get were worthless. You are right though, that England stuck with him through his rough patch, whilst in Ramps era he'd have been dropped and reinstated 6 times

  • Longmemory on July 6, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    Ramps and Hicks are undoubtedly enigmas, and both at least in part victims of a flawed selection and managerial climate in English cricket of their era. At the same time, I think its important to remember that every cricketing nation has its share of Rampses and Hickses. I'll confine myself to India since I know it somewhat better but someone like Brijesh Patel oozed class and technique and made mountains of runs on the domestic circuit and in FC generally - only to come up short in the Test version despite repeated chances. S Badrinath seems to be headed the same way and there have been many others. I guess its about being unable to bridge that gap to ascend to the very top and stay there.

  • mikey76 on July 6, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Another story of talent wasted (or should I say unfufilled). But this wasn't drink related or a lack of fitness, just the inability mentally to come to terms with test match cricket. The talent was there for all to see. Lesser talents like Thorpe for instance just had that mental toughness needed at the highest level to make runs. Yes he had far more quality bowlers to deal with in his era but that only tells part of the story. 5Wombats, dont understand your attack on Stewart and Atherton, both dedicated pro's who did the best in an underwhelming era for english cricket.

  • 07sanjeewakaru on July 6, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    @anuradha_d, Really how many test matches Sanjay Banger've played?Ramps played 52.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 6, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - to be honest Adrian, immediately after posting that comment about Atherton's start, I also did the same exercize with a number of the other players mentioned earlier (though not Freddy) - and I came to the same conclusion as you! Having said that, and at the risk of becoming pedantic, I did the exercize with the cut-off point of scores of 5 or more (as my memory of Athers was him getting out in the first over or two) and he does stand out more then - although no more than Hick, in truth. The other guy who I checked out was Marvan Attapatu, who was famous for his double centuries and his pairs.... and unsurprisingly, his average soars if ignoring the sub-5 scores! Isn't Statsguru good fun?? :))

  • demon_bowler on July 6, 2012, 0:12 GMT

    David, do you think there is anything more you could have done personally as the England coach to help Ramps succeed?

  • jackthelad on July 6, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    I like 'unfulfilled" from a cricketer nowhere near Ramprakash's level. At Test (supreme) level, Ramprakash didn't make a big mark, but in all levels of top-class cricket you would have to search hard to find a better servant. I have no reason to 'bum up' Ramprakash, I am just sick of half-hearted 'friendship' for top-class performers.

  • on July 5, 2012, 21:41 GMT

    Ramprakash is a good cricketer, people can talk about how he didn't perform internationally but look at his first class record before you slate him, think you could do any better? i think not. Ramps true legend in the English game

  • 5wombats on July 5, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    I always enjoyed watching him bat. Watched him a few times during the 90's. Technically very correct - great balance - could have amazing timing (on his day). Technique wasn't "the problem". To be honest - God knows what the problem was. We all know the history; England were rank poor in the 1990's - at least, rank poor compared to the Australia team of 1992 -2004. Like a lot of England players at that time in any other era Ramps might have done better. It will be some comfort to Ramps that his average Vs Aus isn't too bad. Overall I think that he wasn't in the right environment. I don't have any time for Atherton - a player who was (and still is) bent on making himself look good. His effect can't have been positive. The Atherton/Stewart years were abysmal for England and I think although talented Ramps internalised all the rubbish and inconsistencies; he wasn't backed in the way that England players are backed today. Well played Mark - see you on TV!?!

  • shillingsworth on July 5, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    @Jegannathan Srinivasan - one of the new faces England tried at 5, instead of recalling Ramprakash, was Jonathan Trott at the Oval in 2009. That seemed to work very well. How about Pietersen in 2005? or Bell in 2004? Ramprakash was a fantastic county player and deserves to be recognised as such. Let's leave it there.

  • landl47 on July 5, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    England have had a few such under-achievers (Mike Gatting, for example, in 79 tests had an average of 35 against a FC average of nearly 50). Ramps was the most puzzling because there was such a wide contrast between his test form and his batting in other FC matches- his FC average is very nearly double his test average- and because he never really had a down period; outside tests, he made runs consistently heavily througout his career. Anyway, whatever the cause, it's in the past now. He has 114 centuries to look back on and a wonderful 25 years of county cricket. Most of us would love to be able to say that. Good luck to him in whatever the future brings.

  • anuradha_d on July 5, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    Is it really that big news ??....Like as if Sanjay Bangar retired from Ranj

  • cram2jam on July 5, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    England selectors should have got a cue from Mike Hussey of Australia, who got a chance in his 30s, but has been the backbone of Australian batting, even now. I know, Ramprakash has already been tried before, but he should have got a chance atleast in 2006, when he was scoring runs with so much consistency. Who knows, he might have easily scored 4-5k runs before he retired in tests

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 5, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister: I don't dispute anything you say, but I just wanted to observe that your point about Atherton being a twitchy starter could be made of a lot of cricketers. In fact I just did the same calculation you mention for Atherton for Graeme Hick and Flintoff (a player clearly close to your heart), and their career batting averages actually go up proprotionately more than Atherton's, by about half as much as again. Flintoff's batting average increase from 31.7 to nearly 48 (helped by elminating from his test career his pairs, for which he holds the English record jointly with Devon Malcolm and a couple of others), but Hick's actually increases more, from about 31 to nearly 49. Ramprakash's average incidentally increases if you do the same calculation from about 27 to nearly 39 (more than Atherton's average in his career as a whole). It would be interesting to know of any highly consistent batsman on whose career record this calculation has relatively little effect.

  • Jstreeter on July 5, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    I think the point about the England set up when players like Ramprakash, Hick, and Crawley came in is an important one. Selection policy was an absolute joke, and in general England was a very weak team. Also, he played his first full home series against an attack of Ambrose, Marshall, Walsh, and Patterson, and his second against Wasim, Waqar, and Mushtaq, with Wasim and Waqar in their absolute prime. No current England player has faced bowling of that consistently high quality (Andrew Flintoff was talking absolute rubbish when he denigrated Atherton in relation to Cook). The difference between Ramprakash and Hick is that Ramprakash looked technically good enough for test cricket. When I see footage of Hick now, he does not look very nimble on his feet.

  • ajetti on July 5, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    The fact this article starts with a note about Ramprakash's skill in something other than cricket is very apt! A failed cricketer at international level. Many people wished him to succeed but success does not depend on good wishes. He lacked something. Skill? Talent? I would not say luck because when one possesses talent, he will make his own luck. People go on and on about potential. What use is it if one does not fulfill perceived talent? Ho hum! A "stalwart" who ground out runs against insipid county attacks!

  • on July 5, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Yes this player did not shine as expected in the international arena. But this guy has been in great form in the last 8-9 years. Why he was not given any chance? Its not easy to 35,000+ runs. Poor fellow. Should have played for England in the last fews years. England has been trying many new faces at 5-6. Nothing worked so far. All the very best to Ramps...

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 5, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    As an aside, I just used Statsguru to check something in Atherton's career that I always suspected at the time (but never knew about cricinfo and its stats!) Athers biggest problem was that he was a dreadful starter - it took several overs before his feet began to move freely and as such, especially against his chief tormentors, McGrath and Ambrose, his greatest difficulty was simply getting into double figures. To illustrate, his career Test average was 37.69 but if you took away all those innings where he fell for single figures, his average would have rocketed to 53.72 which, given the quality of attacks he faced, is comparable with the very best of all time. No wonder that the view of opposition teams at the time was "once Atherton's out, the rest will swiftly fall"...

  • njr1330 on July 5, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    John Buchanan, when he was coach of Australia, was asked to sum up Ramprakash ... his reply was 3 words: 'Afflicted with talent'. ... Exactly!

  • on July 5, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    You could also point out that he was frequently batting in a position that forced him to play in a style that wasn't his natural game.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 5, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - I hear where you're coming from but there is a big difference between Ramp's average of 27.32 and say Atherton's 37.69 and Stewart's 39.54. The point you make about the quality of the attacks these players faced is spot on when comparing them to the averages of current players but the players you mention all played in the same era so the attacks they faced were all the same. Certainly Ramps, Hickie and to a degree Creepy as well, didn't do themselves justice at Test level but I genuinely believe that they would all have flourished in time under the current management and system. Sadly for them, for England and for all true cricket fans around the world, we'll never know...

  • on July 5, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    it comes down to one thing man.RUNS. runs get you in the team and lack of runs get you out of the team.captain, coach etc. might want to mess with your head but you have to be strong if you want to be in the side.it's you alone against the opposition out in the middle. runs and wickets is the best way to shut up people and to earn respect in your own camp.

  • on July 5, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    I believe that temperament comes into play here. I've heard it said, and it seems reasonable, that Ramprakash was a highly-strung personality who would get very nervous waiting to bat. This served him well in the county game as adrenalin put him in the 'zone' - at Test level though, with its increased exposure, the tension was all too much and Ramps flattered to deceive. A similar story could well be true of fellow Middlesex exile Owais Shah. Successful Test batsmen of Ramprakash's vintage, Atherton for example, had fairly modest county averages once their international careers were underway; the thinking being that they saved the nervous energy for the Test arena and were somewhat too relaxed when it came to facing trundlers at Grace Road.

  • on July 5, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    He is the Ryan Giggs of cricket

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 5, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    I wonder about this often-drawn contrast between Hick, Ramprakash (and John Crawley, who is often mentioned in a similar category) as "unfulfilled talents" and roughly contemporary players like Atherton as players who "flourished in adversity". Ramprakash averaged 27 in tests, Hick 31, Crawley about 34 from memory (about the same as Mark Butcher), Atherton 37 (about the same as Stewart and Hussein). There isn't actually that much difference between them. Granted average isn't everything, but one of the points made the other week when Flintoff made an ill-conceived attack on Atherton for having a lower average than Cook is that runs during the 1990s were worth more because of the quality bowlers around (Wasim, Waqar, Mushy, Donald, Pollock, Ambrose, Walsh, etc). If that's a point in partial defence of Atherton it's also valid in partial defence of a player like Hick. I'm not denying that Ramps and Hick underperformed at test level, but some of these contrasts are a bit overstated.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 5, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Although a Lancs supporter, Hick and Ramprakash were the two players' scores I looked out for every match. Both had the potential to dismantle any attack (and in Hick's case the fact that he often did so at ODI level, unlike Ramps, made him more of a conundrum) yet in the final analysis their Test stats were ultimately mediocre at best. Along with many others, I genuinely believe that under the current management team, both would have flourished. The closest modern example is Ian Bell, whose temperament also looked fragile through much of his early career - but he was given so much support and belief by Flower and Strauss that eventually he has finally developed into the Test match player that Hick and Ramps also had the talent to be. Personally, I attach no blame to either player and instead thank both of them for the wonderful memories and fascinating stats that their county careers at least have given us. Best of luck Mark - maybe a position of England batting coach awaits you!

  • on July 5, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    35659 first class runs????? oh my god. This guy is the god of county cricket.

  • HowardM on July 5, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    All those who saw him bat will confirm that they watched an artist at work and what a superb technical model for any young batsman. Let us be glad we have seen a sublime talent in operation.

  • A.Ak on July 5, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Legend. Though under performed in international games,I think your potential in five day games is just after Lara and Dravid or at least close to them.

  • ccckeeper on July 5, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Ramprakash like many other test batsmen of his era never had the extended run in the test side that he required. England were forever chopping and changing the batsmen in a desperate bid to improve results. He proved in the county game that he was a rare talent and it was Englands loss that that talent was not nurtured correctly. To me he stands alongside Graham Hick as the batsmen England wasted.

  • Andre2 on July 5, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    A true legend of English county cricket, like GA Hick and a few others in recent times.

  • jb633 on July 5, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    I think Ramps would have flourished had he peaked in the modern era. T20 cricket allows batsmen to express themselves without the fear of failure. If Ramps had say made his debut playing a t20 then moved to play a few ODI'S, by the time he began to play tests the fear had gone. If you look at the bowling attacks of the 90's too, it must be noted that it was probably harder to score runs. All in all, he must be appreciated as a great county batsmen, but the questions of what if will always cloud his first class stats.

  • John-Price on July 5, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    Many say that Ramprakash and Hick would have done better under the present selectors, but it is not that simple. Every one on the current top 5 had a successful début and soon got their international careers under way, so their credentials were established early. Also, when a team is turning in good results there is more scope for coping with struggling batsman. When Ramps was in his prime, England had a failing side and there was a real need to look at alternative players to see what talent may lurk in the counties. It is true that Adams and Maddy were tried unsuccessfully but Vaughan was drafted in at the same time and he was a winner. If the selectors had not been wiling to change, he could easily have been overlooked given his moderate county record.

  • on July 5, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Just couldn't relax at the crease! shame as he was so talented.

  • Philip_Gnana on July 5, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Things were never going to be easy from the time he started his "test career". In his first overseas tour he was the first to score a hundred in the warm up games in the carribean and was left out in preference to a mediocre Alex Stuart at that time (who came up trumps later on in tests). Having not played a test match on his first tour was demoralising for a young cricketer. To be frank, Mark was never given a free run or the same leniency that was extended to Graeme Hick. Looking over his shoulder when given just one opportunity during a test series instead of the whole series which would have given him the comfort. Having to prove himself at the first opportunity was too much of a weight on his shoulders. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • davidc1984 on July 5, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    "his record wreaked of under-achievement", his record caused or inflicted under-achievement? That's a bold claim Mr Lloyd, and a far stronger one than suggesting that it 'reeked' of under-achievement, metaphorically-speaking.

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  • davidc1984 on July 5, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    "his record wreaked of under-achievement", his record caused or inflicted under-achievement? That's a bold claim Mr Lloyd, and a far stronger one than suggesting that it 'reeked' of under-achievement, metaphorically-speaking.

  • Philip_Gnana on July 5, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Things were never going to be easy from the time he started his "test career". In his first overseas tour he was the first to score a hundred in the warm up games in the carribean and was left out in preference to a mediocre Alex Stuart at that time (who came up trumps later on in tests). Having not played a test match on his first tour was demoralising for a young cricketer. To be frank, Mark was never given a free run or the same leniency that was extended to Graeme Hick. Looking over his shoulder when given just one opportunity during a test series instead of the whole series which would have given him the comfort. Having to prove himself at the first opportunity was too much of a weight on his shoulders. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • on July 5, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Just couldn't relax at the crease! shame as he was so talented.

  • John-Price on July 5, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    Many say that Ramprakash and Hick would have done better under the present selectors, but it is not that simple. Every one on the current top 5 had a successful début and soon got their international careers under way, so their credentials were established early. Also, when a team is turning in good results there is more scope for coping with struggling batsman. When Ramps was in his prime, England had a failing side and there was a real need to look at alternative players to see what talent may lurk in the counties. It is true that Adams and Maddy were tried unsuccessfully but Vaughan was drafted in at the same time and he was a winner. If the selectors had not been wiling to change, he could easily have been overlooked given his moderate county record.

  • jb633 on July 5, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    I think Ramps would have flourished had he peaked in the modern era. T20 cricket allows batsmen to express themselves without the fear of failure. If Ramps had say made his debut playing a t20 then moved to play a few ODI'S, by the time he began to play tests the fear had gone. If you look at the bowling attacks of the 90's too, it must be noted that it was probably harder to score runs. All in all, he must be appreciated as a great county batsmen, but the questions of what if will always cloud his first class stats.

  • Andre2 on July 5, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    A true legend of English county cricket, like GA Hick and a few others in recent times.

  • ccckeeper on July 5, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Ramprakash like many other test batsmen of his era never had the extended run in the test side that he required. England were forever chopping and changing the batsmen in a desperate bid to improve results. He proved in the county game that he was a rare talent and it was Englands loss that that talent was not nurtured correctly. To me he stands alongside Graham Hick as the batsmen England wasted.

  • A.Ak on July 5, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Legend. Though under performed in international games,I think your potential in five day games is just after Lara and Dravid or at least close to them.

  • HowardM on July 5, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    All those who saw him bat will confirm that they watched an artist at work and what a superb technical model for any young batsman. Let us be glad we have seen a sublime talent in operation.

  • on July 5, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    35659 first class runs????? oh my god. This guy is the god of county cricket.