The Ashes: Australia should have hung on to their senior pros, says Mark Ramprakash

Former batsman says England would have found it tougher against Hussey and Katich

When England take the field at The Oval for the final Test, it will almost feel like a party atmosphere. It is not a sensation with which Mark Ramprakash is familiar, even if he is a great dancer. His Ashes career began and ended at The Oval but coincided with more than a decade of Aussie domination.

His first taste of the great rivalry came 20 years ago this week, just as Shane Warne emerged on to the world stage, and his final Ashes Test was Steve Waugh's last Test in England. For a batsman as gifted as Ramprakash his timing was not good.

He is shocked by how the Australians have gone into decline since then. "I am very surprised," he says. "They seemed to have such strength in depth in the Nineties and early 2000s. They could have put out three Test batting line-ups, they were incredibly strong and seemed to have a production line of batsmen."

Ramprakash blames their latest Ashes defeat on the selectors. "They have got rid of their core senior players too early. I've always believed that in any sport if your core players are good role models they deserve to play. The likes of Mike Hussey and Simon Katich, who are very professional players, very impressive run-scorers, have not been selected. If they were in the team, England would have had it tougher.

"If you've got young players who look like outstanding prospects then by all means throw them in," he adds. "But there have been a lot of question marks about the young players Australia have picked. None of them has really gone on to establish themselves, like Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja; even Shane Watson has not nailed down the opener's spot."

While Australia have gone downhill, England improved dramatically in the last decade and did it in their own way. "The great Australian sides used to bully teams, dominate, score at four an over and set very attacking fields," says Ramprakash. "But England are different, they have come across a formula that works for them and they are playing to their strengths.

"Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have been prolific at scoring big runs, which allows the middle order to enjoy themselves. They have an established nucleus that is very experienced and they know what it takes at Test level. They can handle the pressures. They are establishing their own era."

Ramprakash hung up his boots last summer after being dropped by Surrey and now coaches back at his former county, Middlesex, and with the England Lions, preparing the next generation of Ashes winners.

One of the hallmarks of England's decade at the top has been consistency of selection, something which was lacking in his day – he was dropped more than 10 times, as was Graeme Hick, who made his Test debut in the same match and, like Ramprakash, scored 100 first-class centuries despite never hitting the heights at Test level.

"There's no doubt that players respond to that consistency," he says. "A lot of debutants have come in and done well. The environment has been welcoming and relaxed for the new players because they feel they are going to get a run in the side.

"The Lions has been a tremendous breeding ground, an educational place, and when the players get selected for the main squad they enjoy themselves."

Ramprakash's Ashes appearances were sporadic but when he did play, his record was impressive; he averaged 42 compared to his overall figure of 27.32. "It's interesting," he says. "I kept coming in for the odd game and I was performing well. The Australians used to have some great bowlers, Warne and Glenn McGrath and, earlier on, the likes of Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes, and they were backed up by some fairly noisy fielders giving you a word or two about how your career's going. From a personal point of view it was a big challenge."

For fairly noisy, read sledging. Like Hick, Ramprakash looked like an easy target to the nearest ranting larrikin. How did he cope so well with what Steve Waugh liked to call "mental disintegration" in the pressurised environment of the Ashes? "It's funny how it works out. For a lot of innings early on in my career I was too tense and nervous. But the challenge seemed to bring out the best in me.

"It's like Tiger Woods, everyone expects him to walk around the course smiling and laughing but that's not his way, he plays with intensity. That's what works for him, that's what has made him so good."

In his first Ashes Test in 1993, he was called up less than an hour before play began at The Oval after Graham Thorpe broke a finger in the nets. He made 64 as England won by 161 runs, their first victory over Australia for six years. In his last Ashes Test, at the same ground in 2001, he scored 133 but by the following summer he had been dropped for the final time.

If he had been given more of an opportunity, he might have danced a victory jig at The Oval too.

You can see Mark in action at The Sick Children's Trust Cricket in the City event at the Honorary Artillery Company on Thursday 12 September. Tickets are available at: www.sickchildrenstrust.org

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album