A county legend, a Test failure: the curious career of Mark Ramprakash

Last batsman to hit 100 first-class tons to retire today – but he leaves with a touch of 'if only...'

Mark Ramprakash was a batsman who started in a bygone age. He announced himself on the stage during a September afternoon almost a quarter of a century ago. Middlesex were in deep trouble in the NatWest Trophy final against Worcestershire at Lord's, a match that was a much bigger deal then than it is now.

"However," as Wisden Cricketers' Almanack recorded, "Ramprakash, two days away from his 19th birthday, took them to within three runs of victory, batting throughout in his cap with confidence, style and a rare charm." The cap was the motif of that innings of 56 every bit as much as the calm majesty of his strokes.

He is the last of the cricketers to have spanned the generations, what might be termed the capped age and the helmeted age. And he is the last, too, to have made 100 first-class centuries. Twenty-four players preceded him, almost all legends of the game like Don Bradman, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Viv Richards, but none will follow.

There are not first-class matches for the milestone to be achieved again, even if a batsman played until he was 100 years old. Ramprakash is walking into the sunset at 42. He does so not quite as the legend he seemed destined to become that day in 1988. It is almost perverse to suggest that a batsman who played 52 Test matches, scored 114 hundreds and had a career average above 50 was unfulfilled. Yet it could be said of Ramprakash when he formally announces his retirement today.

Through the faults of selectors and his own temperament, the first occasionally contrary, the second sometimes volcanic, he never made the international runs that his expansive gifts and his supremely impeccable method demanded. Only two of those hundreds were scored for England in Test matches, one in Barbados in his 38th innings, the second against Australia at The Oval in 2001 in his 81st.

Perhaps he wanted to succeed too much and therein lay his failure. He was a perfectionist who was hard on himself and hard on others and more empathetic souls would have got the best out of him. Between the start and end of his international career of 11 years, England played 120 Test matches and it could be argued that he should have played in 100 of them.

As it was, he started out in 1991 against West Indies when they were still rampant and, although he made at least 19 in eight of his nine innings in the series, it was not enough to secure a place on that winter's tour. It embodied his international career: potential unrealised. He never sealed a place until towards the end when time was already running out.

Ramprakash spent the first part of his batting life at Middlesex, the second at Surrey, for whom he played more matches and scored more hundreds without ever quite dispelling the feeling that he belonged at Lord's, not The Oval. Lately, on the north side of the river, it is an open secret that he has not been enamoured of everything that has happened. But in county cricket, for whichever side he played, he was resplendent.

It is a symptom of the state we are in that Ramprakash became much more famous as a winning contestant on the television talent show Strictly Come Dancing than he did on the cricket field. But the manner in which he won the competition reflected his batting style, exuding style and a rare charm.

He could and should become an insightful, articulate, charming pundit now, unless he can pass on the secrets of batsmanship to others. The image of the upright boy in the cap at Lord's in September 1988 will never fade.

Ramps: The runs and the records flowed

Test record P 52 Runs 2,350 HS 154 Ave 27.23.

County record P 461 Runs 35,659 HS 301 not out Ave. 53.14

Middlesex 1987-2001

Surrey 2001-2012

Major Achievements

Hit a total of 114 centuries in his first-class career, putting him 16th on the all-time list, level with Sir Vivian Richards.

Ramprakash became the first batsman to record centuries against all 18 counties in June 2003.

He is the only player to average more than 100 in two consecutive English county seasons (2006 & 2007).

News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Life & Style
techHow a 'grey brick' took over the world of portable gaming
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Coren Mitchell, who is the daughter of the late broadcaster Alan Coren and is married to comedian David Mitchell, produced a hand to make poker history at the 98th EPT main event.
peopleJournalist and TV presenter becomes first ever two-time winner of the European Poker Tour
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players