Mark Ramprakash will reflect on what could have been with England
Mark Ramprakash's failure to shine for England's Test team is set to remain a mystery, writes William Roe
On Thursday night at the Kia Oval, during the interval of the Twenty20 match between Surrey and Kent, out strolled the newly-retired Mark Ramprakash, clad in a grey suit, to say his farewells.
It was not the send-off that the 42-year-old maestro deserved but it highlighted just how quickly cricket is moving.
Ramprakash’s 25-year career was that of an old fashioned batsman, who accumulated runs through building an innings, backed up by a sound technique and glorious stroke play – not something that can be reproduced in cricket’s newest format.
The setting for this final recognition magnified the changing of the guards as the public applauded a man who scored 114 first-class tons.
In the last 10 years, England have produced three genuinely great batsmen: Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick and Kevin Pietersen.
All three had the ability to change Test matches and put opposition attacks to the sword. Ramprakash’s name should be among them, but due to England’s scattergun selection approach during the 1990s his potential at Test level never came to fruition.
However, the right-hander’s stark failure in the Test arena cannot solely be attributed to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s selection policy.
An average of 27.32 in 52 Test matches was ultimately a failure for a man of such immeasurable talent.
Why Ramprakash never excelled at the highest level is a question that can never truly be answered.
In any sport, greatness will be judged on what a player achieves at international level. A brilliant 154 against a West Indies attack – including an opening bowling partnership of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose – at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1998 was a demonstration of what he could do.
Sadly for Ramprakash, and England, it was one of only two centuries he scored for his country.
35,659 first-class runs at an average of 53.14 speaks for itself in terms of talent and pedigree, yet for a player who plied his trade so majestically at Surrey and Middlesex, his career will always be remembered with a ‘what-could-have-been’ tag attributed to it.