How it Happens

This is how it happens. Enough people suggest him, Geoff Miller says that 'nobody is ruled out' (not even Darren Pattinson?), the press stick their oar in and suddenly there seems to be an irresistible clamour for Mark Ramprakash to be recalled to the England team.

I go back a very long way with Mark Ramprakash. I'm a little older than him and I also grew up in Middlesex. I first heard about him on the cricket grapevine when he was thirteen. I saw him play regularly during his early years at Middlesex, was cheering him on from the Tavern Stand when he piloted his county to a Nat West Trophy victory in 1988, watched him move on to and through the years of unfulfilment in Test cricket.

Technically he's the best English batsman I've ever seen.

There are things you can't change, though. One is that he's now nearly forty years old; another is that his record in Test cricket is, for a player of his ability, utterly mediocre, although he did play most of his Tests before the era of central contracts (which would have helped him a lot) and against some very good attacks (West Indies 1991, Pakistan 1992, South Africa 1995-6).

Many feel that his achievements over recent seasons in the Surrey side suggest that he's a better player than he was. I'm not totally convinced about that. He always was incredibly good, but it's only in recent seasons, as people have forgotten what his Test career was like, that he's become a cause celebre, with the result that people seem to think that what he's done over recent years at a much lower level of cricket is more important than what he did at a higher level when he was younger and fitter.

If he was recalled the pressure on him would be searingly intense. All the past evidence suggests that he would find it very difficult to cope. Even in these straitened times, with the lack of alternatives positively scary, I don't think I'd pick him. But nobody's going to ask me to.

What will the selectors do?

If changes are to be made - and Bopara has to be gone - fairness and logic suggest that Jonathan Trott should come in, but fairness and logic have never played much part in English selection decisions, and it may be that Robert Key, to whom batting at three shouldn't hold any fears, is a more likely pick.

I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that they won't select Ramprakash, mainly because they'll be too worried about what they'll have to say and do if he succeeds.


Thiru Cumaran said...


Quite frankly, I'm one of those romantics who was cheering on Anil Kumble when he got his maiden century (though I was a hardcore England supporter at that time), and so supporting Ramps' recall isn't something new to me and I'd love to see him play as I've heard a lot about him but am unable to watch county matches due to them not being telecasted on live TV.

However, it was always temperament, not form or technique, that took him down the path of failure and so it truly is hard to see him coming back.

If you can remember, he went about 3 - 5 matches without a century when he was on 99 first-class centuries (can't remember whether it was this year or last year), so it does show that when the pressure gets to him, he does wilter and, like you said, the pressure in this test will be unbearable (perhaps Chris Gayle might have finally showed some emotion if he were selected for this test for England! :)

Rob Key does look and sound good, though don't discount an unchanged side as 'it will help the stability of the team'. At the most, Trott will come in for Bopara...

Rob said...

I cannot see them picking him, they have had ample time to do that if they were going to. Like you suggest it would cause some problems if he succeeds. Apart from anything they are too pigheaded to select him. He deserved a second chance a year or so ago but they stuck with the current mediocrity instead. Picking a 40 year old for the last Ashes test would be a bit of a joke anyway.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks for the comments. I really can't see them going for Trott - a tough game to make your debut in and he isn't really a number three. Perhaps Key for Bopara with Bell dropping down the order?

Thiru Cumaran said...

Hmmm....just woke up to Cricinfo saying that Geoff Miller rules out Tres (as if he would've played if asked to), but isn't ruling out Ramps...man, I sometimes wish that SL cricket was as interesting as English cricket. I think it's the lack of meida hype about cricket which can make it a bit boring unless there's a live match going on! :)

Thiru Cumaran said...

And, BTW, Brian, could you do me a tiny favour and put me on your blogroll? A million thanks in advance! :)

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