Cricket: Graveney offers solace to Ramprakash

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MARK RAMPRAKASH has been assured he still has an international future, despite being left out of England's Test squad for the winter tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said Ramprakash has been left out in favour of the former England captain, Alec Stewart, but he urged the Middlesex batsman not to despair.

"Mark Ramprakash's future with England is not finished," Graveney said. "It came down to a choice between him and Alec Stewart - and we believe Alec to be a world-class all-rounder in terms of batting and wicketkeeping. He will go as the wicketkeeper/batsman, it gives us more options."

The selectors have kept their promise to use the winter's Test and one- day squads to begin building for the Ashes series in 2001. Four uncapped players are included in the 17-strong main squad - the Sussex captain Chris Adams, Northamptonshire's Graeme Swann, Yorkshire all-rounder Gavin Hamilton, and his teammate Michael Vaughan, the opening batsman and off- spinner who captained England A to South Africa last winter.

Darren Gough, who missed the entire Test series against New Zealand with a calf injury, said: "I've got the all-clear to start playing again and it's still very possible I will play."

The 29-year-old Adams, overlooked since appearing in two one-day internationals against South Africa last year, passed 10,000 runs in first-class cricket earlier this season. "I feel I've got up to six of my best years ahead of me," said Adams.