Mark Ramprakash: What I've Learnt This Week

1. Lord's is brilliant for atmosphere and lumpy bumpy cake
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The Independent Online

The Twenty20 competition has taken up our time at Surrey of late and has been great fun. It's a fantastic game and it is here to stay. When it first burst on to the scene people were saying it would breed bad habits but actually it does the opposite - it pushes us to work harder at our game.

On the morning of our first game I was just leaving for Lord's when I got a text from our coach, Alan Butcher, asking what size trousers I wore. He was also picking up our shirts - it is not the most organised we've ever been.

The dressing-rooms at Lord's are just what you'd expect of such a ground, spacious, with sofas, silver hooks above each space and a plasma screen showing the World Cup. We also had a great Lord's lunch, including chocolate lumpy bumpy cake - a favourite. Lord's is a wonderful ground, but it is hard to explain what is so special about it. It's easy to take for granted when you play there but going back brought it all home again.

At Surrey we love the freedom to express ourselves. The crowds - there were 28,000 at that match - and adrenalin give the players a wonderful rush. It is also good for those who haven't played in front of large audiences before.

With the bat James Benning and Ali Brown launched an astonishing assault in the early overs; Benning hit four fours in a row and Brown pulled Scott Styris over the Mound Stand for six. We got 120 for 0 off 10 overs, then there was a dot ball. Alan Butcher sarcastically tutted: "Not enough singles."

After our start I was happy to drop down the order and give our big hitters a chance. Tim Murtagh then took two wickets with our first two balls and it was nice to start our campaign with a convincing win.

2. Celebrations can cause ill will

There is always a lot of banter flying around at Twenty20 matches between the crowd and the players. The 5.30pm start time and the drink help, but I'm sometimes surprised by the ferocity of the comments. On Thursday we played at a packed Rose Bowl and on the boundary I made a slide tackle to stop the ball that Tony Adams would have been proud of. I was all over the rope but thought I stopped it fairly so didn't signal four.

Of course 8,000 people behind me thought I was the biggest cheat since Maradona. I was booed every time I got the ball.

We won by 10 runs and I hit the stumps to run out their No 11 and wrap it up. I pulled my shirt over my head and ran 50 yards around the boundary putting my finger to my lips to the crowd.It was 19 overs of not reacting that came out. Twenty20 is here to stay precisely because of the emotion and adrenalin it can conjure up.

Their supporters didn't take losing - or my celebration - too well, though, and got a bit hot under the collar. They'd been richly entertained so I was surprised by the bad feeling and abuse. Needless to say, my team-mates were cracking up.

3. Happiness is a cold drink and a lie-in

Against Kent the music they put on when you go out to bat was interesting. For us it was "Don't Hold Back" by the Chemical Brothers, which makes you feel like a gladiator entering the ring. For them it was their dodgy and embarrassing slow harmony single that the players have released. I'm not sure how that made them feel, but I'm looking forward to the album and video.

After that we played Sussex. At the ground Sussex had kindly pinned up pictures of their two fine bowlers Saqlain Mushtaq and Rana Naved-Ul-Hasan outside our dressing-room to intimidate us. I succumbed to a Mushy googly and we lost.

I got home at midnight and was woken at eight by my eager-to-play daughter. Twenty20 takes it out of you because it is so explosive. I love it but sometimes I'd rather be watching from afar with a cold drink.

4. Dads think they know best

We played Essex at The Oval last weekend and I saw Darren Gough in action. He is still a class performer. Graeme Hick was saying that it is difficult altering your game for Twenty20. He then slapped 50 off 25 balls. He's obviously struggling.

Essex are a good outside bet for the title. We set them 188 and got Ronnie Irani and Andy Flower cheaply. But Ravi Bopara got a good 80 to see them home.

My dad came to watch for the first time in a couple of years and afterwards I had to rescue my team-mate Nayan Doshi. My dad was telling him what sort of pace and where he should have been bowling. Not what he needed after a loss.

5. England are down but not out

I can't imagine what Michael Vaughan is going through at the moment. Not to have the opportunity to defend the Ashes will hit him hard. For England it is double blow: they have lost his captaincy and he batted brilliantly Down Under last time. But England have to get on with it.

6. Mums can make a splash

My daughter Anya's sports day was cancelled on Monday because of rain, which was a real shame. During the hot spell I had taken my two girls swimming a lot, which they loved. They have broken up from school for nine weeks so they want to keep going. I've got a few away Championship matches coming up, though, so it'll be over to my wife for that.

7. The Eighties were a golden age for music

Most of the team went to Ian Salisbury's for a barbecue last Sunday. The younger players were in the garden listening to Snoop Doggy Dog. I joined the older ones inside listening to hits of the Eighties. I guess it shows the age divide in our team but, despite that, we are getting on well. I got some information on Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial that day and asked Rikki Clarke, a Spurs fan, if he fancied it. I won't tell you his answer.

Best Delivery of the Week

Any of our spinner Nayan Doshi's three wickets against Kent. They were all stumpings due to lovely flight. It shows that spinners have a full part to play in the Twenty20 form of the game - contrary to many people's opinions when it first came on to the scene.

Best Shot of the Week

Our big-hitting batsman Ali Brown pulling Middlesex's medium-paced Scott Styris over the Mound Stand and out of Lord's. I've never seen it done before. It was an incredible effort and he really got hold of it.

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