Mark Ramprakash: What I've Learnt This Week

1. The wicket might be green but it's not pleasant to try to score runs on
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We arrived at Bath on Wednesday morning looking forward to our Championship match against Somerset. But the wicket was as green and damp as I've seen for many a year. It certainly did not follow the England and Wales Cricket Board guidelines for being white and dry.

The boys had a bit of banter with Alan Butcher, our coach, suggesting he strap his pads on and show us how to perform on these uncovered tracks that he used to play on. Some cheeky sod - probably Scott Newman - said that I had been going so long I probably played on them too.

Young players just don't see these sort of wickets today. However, when I started in the late 1980s, we played on these regularly. You were just happy to get off the mark. If you got 40 or 50 you'd have played well.

It used to be said that averaging anything over the golden 40 mark and you'd be considered as a potential England player. Aspiring England players these days need to be at the 50 mark. We went into this match with six of our boys averaging 50 or over this season. It shows how the pitches have changed. They are so much better for the batsmen now. The recent rule changes have also favoured the bat: the smaller seam, and the limit of two bouncers an over.

2. A sharp exit is often on the cards

A green wicket gives players an excuse to think batting is a lottery, you can go for a few shots and if you are dismissed you have a get-out. However, I saw two greats in Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch, who always viewed playing those conditions as a chance to show how good they were. It meant more to them to score runs when the team needed them. The best hundred I've ever seen was Gatt's at Derby in the early 90s. The wicket had pieces flying out of it. I was just content to get off a duck, but Gatt got stuck in and played very well.

He hurt his hamstring when he was on 80-odd and called for a runner but Mike Roseberry, Desmond Haynes and I were playing cards and didn't want to do it. We decided to play a quick hand to see who would do it. But we weren't that quick and Gatt got to a ton and then was out. He was not amused. I apologised and left sharpish.

3. Life rarely adds up how you want it to

We got off to a flyer on Wednesday and had Somerset 38 for 4 but we then had our worst day in the field this season, putting down eight chances. It was a bit like England's day at Lord's against Sri Lanka. It is amazing how it happens and you can't put your finger on why.

4. Old-timers are better than new technology

On the first day at Bath, Martin Bicknell and Mo Akram bowled 51 overs and took eight wickets for 167 runs combined. The other members of our attack contributed 26 overs for the one success at a cost of 157. It is an interesting comparison. Our two golden oldies showed the value of quality seamers who are consistent day in, day out. The two guys are grooved bowlers who put the ball in good areas. Andy Caddick is another one - he is still going for Somerset aged 37. They are great for the youngsters to learn from. The kids can use video cameras to help tinker with their run-ups and their actions but these old 'uns are better as a teaching aid than any amount of technology


5. Real cricketers don't drop catches

I've only played at Bath once in 1993. I faced the quickest bowler I've ever been up against: Andre Van Troost. Haynes faced him and said: "I've got to run and phone my boys back home 'cos this boy can bowl ... real fast."

We agreed to feed Somerset some easy runs so they could set us an agreed target. But they kept getting out. When the No 11 lashed it, Haynes looked like catching it but John Carr shouted at him to drop it. Haynes held on and Somerset fell short of the target. In the changing-rooms, Haynes said: "I'm a pro cricketer, I'm not dropping catches," before going out and smacking a hundred to knock the runs off.

6. We need to get the bowling sorted

England started their one-day season with a win on Tuesday - it was only Ireland but the worry was that they once again relied on Marcus Trescothick, who hit a wonderful hundred.

We are still searching for someone to bowl accurately at the death. I think there is still a place for Darren Gough. No one has proved they can do his job. Some of the selections have been strange: are we building for the World Cup or picking horses for courses? I feel Owais Shah has the talent and flair to play well for England in one-day cricket.

7. Being on the road is bad for family life

As we are going straight from Bath to Swansea after this Championship game, I had to tell my little girl, Anya, who is four, over the phone that I would not be home for Father's Day tomorrow. I was met with a wall of sobbing down the phone. It was upsetting but being on the road is part of the job.

We missed out on Willows Farm last Sunday as the girls had a birthday party to go to near a new golf centre in Harrow. While they were playing their games, I nipped out to hit a few slices on the range. I'm becoming consistently inconsistent.

8. Never make excuses

In the World Cup, England made a mistake by saying heat was a problem against Paraguay because it is the same for both sides. It is an excuse. If England play cricket in Sri Lanka, we cannot afford to have the heat in our minds. You train hard to make sure you can cope with it.

I missed the Trinidad & Tobago game as we were in the field. But we kept hearing ooohs and aahhs from various bars when England kept missing. It is a shame they didn't show their class.

Last week I tipped Brazil to win it. But I've now seen Argentina and I'm changing horses, especially if Brazil persevere with Ronaldo.

Best Delivery of the Week

We were playing Leicestershire last Saturday in the County Championship and Mohammad Akram was bowling to Paul Nixon on a flat wicket with an old ball. He came on for a new spell and sent three deliveries across NIxon's off stump. He then chucked in a brilliant inswinging yorker that uprooted middle stump. A magnificent piece of bowling.

Best Shot of the Week

It was the first day at Bath in our match against Somerset and the ball was doing all sorts on a wet track. Surrey's Rikki Clarke was bowling at good pace but Richard Johnson pulled him over midwicket for six off his first scoring shot. He middled it ... but I suspect he had his eyes closed.