Angus Fraser: We had the odd bust-up but playing with Mark Ramprakash was a joy

We had a toe-to-toe argument about who would sit in the back seat... He won

In 50 years' time it is hard to believe that cricket's bible, Wisden, will be recording a batsman with more international hundreds than Sachin Tendulkar or a bowler with more Test wickets than Muttiah Muralitharan. The considerable achievements of Mark Ramprakash, who announced his retirement from first-class cricket yesterday, will never be comparable to those of the two all-time greats named above, but in 2062 he too could be the answer to a question at many sports quizzes.

On 2 August 2008, Ramprakash became the 25th player in the game's history to score 100 first-class hundreds. With the volume of first-class cricket being reduced it is feat that is extremely unlikely to be repeated.

I would like to believe that I played some sort of role in Ramprakash's remarkable batting achievements as it was me who used to pick the 16-year-old up from his home in Hatch End and drive him to training with Middlesex at Lord's. I am sure at times we talked about batting but, wisely, he didn't listen to me: He scored more runs in one summer than I scored in my entire career.

When Ramprakash began practising with Middlesex we were immediately aware he had a special gift. Yes, we knew he had a bit of a temper, the legend of which was almost as strong as the quality of the hundreds he used to compile as a teenager at Bessborough Cricket Club, near Harrow, but it was the way he batted in the nets against the likes of Wayne Daniel, Norman Cowans, Neil Williams and John Emburey that caught the eye. Despite still studying at Harrow Weald Sixth Form College he was totally at ease with his surroundings and capable of dealing with everything these high-quality bowlers threw at him.

As a batsman Ramprakash has always been aesthetically pleasing. Even in the face of hostile bowling he rarely looked anything but relaxed and comfortable. His aim was to create a zone he was in control of.

I remember watching him take 50 minutes to get off the mark in a game for Surrey at The Oval when I was working as Cricket Correspondent for The Independent. He played every ball on merit and it was beautiful to watch.

As a youngster he was a far more aggressive batsman. Sir Vivian Richards was his hero and he wanted to bat just like him. The first time I saw him play he used the same bat - a Stuart Surridge Jumbo - as the great man did. It was apt then that he ended up with the same number of first-class hundreds - 114 - as Richards.

And a few times he performed like the "Master Blaster". The first time I witnessed how destructive he could be was during a Second XI 40-over game in May 1987 when he smashed a Leicestershire attack containing Phillip DeFreitas, Chris Lewis and Peter Such for 152 at Grace Road. It was this innings that turned our heads and it was shortly followed, in 1988, with the man-of-the-match award for Middlesex in the Lord's NatWest final.

Yorkshire were involved in many of his milestones. It was against them that he made his debut in 1987 when, batting at Lord's in a floppy Middlesex cap – he never wore a helmet as a youngster – he scored 17 and 63 not out. And it was at Headingley that he made his England debut and scored his first and 100th hundred.

Much has been made of Mark's temper down the years and when he blew you did not want to be around. I, being at times a little fiery too, had a few altercations with him. One was a toe-to-toe argument during his first full season with Middlesex when we were playing at Wellingborough School. He didn't believe he should have to sit in the back of Emburey's car just because he was the junior pro. A row ensued and, despite my considerable height advantage, I ended up clambering into the back seat. And it was a two-door car.

There was another occasion he got out trying to hit the late, great Malcolm Marshall (of all people) back over his head for six at Basingstoke. His bat broke in the process and he angrily tossed it into a bin by the Pavilion before stomping up the steps.

Many feel Ramprakash's career was unfulfilled because he failed to crack Test cricket, and the perennial question is why? I believe there were a number of factors, the first being that playing international cricket is not easy. Top sportsmen have different talents and some cope with the occasion and mental battles better than others.

Living up to people's expectations is tough, too. For Ramprakash batting was everything. Winning Strictly Come Dancing was nothing compared to scoring a century. Even now he still loves batting. It is why he regularly turns out for Stanmore CC on Saturdays. An abiding memory for me will always be the image of his smiling face on completing his first Test ton against West Indies in Barbados.

His preparation for matches was immaculate. He would get bowlers to replicate what he was expecting to face in every game: spin, left-arm swing. And his desire to succeed was fierce. This intensity was at times detrimental. It prevented him from reproducing the game that served him so well in first-class cricket.

To say Mark underachieved is extremely harsh and I would say plain wrong. Great sportsmen perform to a very high level for a long time and I believe the feat of scoring 131 red and white ball hundreds over almost 25 years transcends those perceived shortcomings. In an age when traits like patience, discipline and attention to detail are ignored for the desire to entertain and be sexy we may never see his likes again.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn