Thursday, 5 July 2012

Ramprakash - hero or villain?

Mark Ramprakash will retire today, a cricketer with nearly fifty thousand runs spanned over twenty five years in the game. With one hundred and fourteen centuries, and potentially the last cricketer to ever score a hundred hundreds, we should be looking back on a career of serious distinction. Yet, I can't help having the feeling he should have done so much more.

Another classy shot from Ramps





I first encountered Ramprakash as a thirteen year old at the Middlesex indoor nets at Finchley, when he was playing for Bessborough CC from North West London. He then moved to Stanmore, a club he has represented this season, and a sixteen year old Ramprakash took a strong Southgate attack in the Middlesex County League for a mere 180 odd! He even had the confidence to tell a Southgate bowler who he had just dispatched into the tennis courts, "Don't bowl that shit at me, you know who I am?" At sixteen!!!!

At the age of eighteen, a fifty for Middlesex in the Nat West Trophy final of 1988 made people from all around the country sit up and take notice of the new kid in town and selection for England followed in 1991.

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Ramps on test debut in 1991


Test cricket wasn't a hugely successful story and rumours of petulant tantrums, being too uptight or tense, and spats with various figures of authority led to him averaging 27 over 52 tests. His average and test caps should be twice what they were for one of the finest and most talented players for a generation. Occasionally he showed his class and a 154 against the Windies in Barbados was an outstanding knock, as was his 133 against a brilliant Australian team in 2001.

It was in county cricket that the man with the nickname Bloodaxe, really proved he was a great player passing 2000 runs three times and scoring 1000 runs in a season a mere twenty times! He averaged 53 and anyone who does that over a twenty five year period, you need to doff one's cap at. He even averaged a hundred twice in a season. Serious shit. Yet it still could have been more.

Maybe this feeling comes from a bias towards Middlesex? Ramprakash never endeared himself to his supporters north of the river after a high profile move across the Thames to Surrey, where he became one of the highest earners in cricket.

Ramprakash had arguably more natural talent than any player of recent years, and his Test career will always have me thinking that he never fully fulfilled such a talent. Maybe an English Tendulkar? He really could have been that good.

With a media career surely beckoning, especially after a winning stint on Strictly Come Dancing, the marketable Ramps won't be foxtrotting off of our screens for a few more years just yet!

However, I will always look back on his career and the word of underachievement springs to mind. Amazing isn't it, when you look at the statistics of such a fine player?

2 comments:

  1. The mean and moody ramps was a hero to many as he stormed his way through the junior ranks with amazing success as a teenager. I think many observers are harsh on him. After all he played 52 tests and with his amazing county record it werent all bad. Compare him to other hotly tipped young batsman to come through middlesex. Owais Shah and Matthew Keech are 2 that were earmarked for greatness and neither got near the results ramps put in the scorebook. In this country we are very critical of our sportsman, if we stand back we can see ramps career was a triumph rather than a failure.

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  2. Not sure the title to this article is suitable, surely Success or Failure would be better. There is no doubting that Ramps "failed" at Test level considering the talent that he had, whilst being a "success" at first class level by any criteria which will never satisfy the critics who will always point to the stats at test level. Ramps' failure (to the outsider) seems to stem from a combination of factors such as
    the desire to do well hampering his natural game,
    the uncertainty of selction, one failure and your dropped &
    a highly strung mentality which meant that the two things above caused issues for him.

    Having played against him a couple of times and having watched him being triggered by a Herts league umpire at Potters Bar having scored 91 out of 108 for Bessborough as a 14 year old (!!) it was common knowlege that he was a different class to all of us club players but if you could get under his skin he would lose his temper and you might just get him. I know this isn't cricket but he was so good you'd try anything!

    Having said all this, I'm gutted that he's decided to call it a day as it's made me realise that I'm old as when he was playing I could still feel that I must be young if there are profession sportsman of my age!! Also, for any student of this great game, seeing him play in full flow was as enjoyable as it gets (unless you are playing against him!)

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