A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

Whatever Happened To The Unlikely Lads? #2: Mark Ramprakash

Posted on October 22, 2011 by in Opinion


Sometimes you get a long way down the track before you realise you’ve got it a bit wrong. And other times you know from the start that you’ve made a huge mistake. We’re very much in the latter camp when it comes to the title of this article. What started out as an attempt to avoid infringing on the BBC’s copyright has now become a millstone around our neck. And why is this? Because in Mark Ramprakash, we have the unlikeliest unlikely lad you could possibly imagine.

#2: Mark Ravin Ramprakash

The first entry in the series, Ian Salisbury, was genuinely shit, fit only to provide the ammo for the Stand And Deliver round at the Titans Of Cricket show. Mark Ravin Ramprakash was far from shit, being a fantastically talented batsman that never even came close to fulfilling his potential at the top level.

Starting at the end, like a contemporary series of Doctor Who, is very telling. Once he was finally free from the pressure of having to occasionally play international cricket, Ramprakash’s county form was simply amazing. In every season from 2001 to 2010 he averaged over 50 with the bat. In 2006 and 2007 he averaged over 100, scoring more than 2,000 runs in both cases (and surpassing Denis Compton’s supposedly unbeatable figures from 1947 over the two years). He also managed a perfect score on the way to winning the final of Strictly Come Dancing.


England's new ODI kit was more successful than the team itself


And yet, in the full glare of the international arena, things were very different. He managed to play 52 Tests but made only two hundreds. An average of 27.32 says it all – a figure below the likes of Stuart Broad, Tim Ambrose and Nawab of Pataudi.

Ramprakash debuted for England alongside another supremely gifted but ultimately disappointing batsman (Graeme Hick) in the 1991 home series against the West Indies. Even twenty years on, this remains one of our favourite series, as perhaps the last great West Indian side went head to head with the likes of Derek Pringle and Steve Watkin. While the first game at Headingley is famous for Graeme Gooch’s amazing 154*, Ramprakash’s two scores of 27 proved extremely valuable in a low scoring encounter. However, they also set a trend of aesthetically pleasing innings that ended just as they got going.

Ramprakash didn’t make it past 29 in that series and didn’t reach 50 until his tenth test match, a dead rubber victory against Australia at The Oval in 1993. From there it was a familiar story for any number of England players in the 90’s – in and out of the side as results failed to improve. Ramprakash’s first hundred finally came in the West Indies, a mere seven years after his debut. His second came in 2001, again against Australia at The Oval. And yet it was followed by another run of mediocre scores before he was finally put out of his misery in 2002.

And yet the story didn’t quite end there. During the 2009 Ashes England found themselves in desperate need of a batsman for the decisive final Test at The Oval, due to an injury to Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara’s complete lack of runs. Seasoned pundits called for Ramprakash and a final hurrah. The England selectors went for Jonathan Trott instead, and the rest is history.

England celebrate their 2009 Ashes win. Not pictured: Ramprakash, MR

It’s hard to reconcile Mark Ravin Ramprakash the nervous England batsman with Mark Ravin Ramprakash the suave, sophisticated destroyer of county attacks, winner of dancing competitions and favourite of housewives. Perhaps he was simply not built to play in a rubbish team, where the pressure was always on a middle order prone to collapsing like one of Mrs 51allout’s souffles. In the modern side, where he’d have been batting behind the likes of Trott and Cook, he’d have been coming in at 250/3 and smashing the likes of Steve Smith into the Swan River, under no pressure whatsoever.

Alas, we’ll never know. All that we’ll be left with are the memories of his truly great performances – the aforementioned Strictly Come Dancing victory and the time he succesfully completed all his challenges on Hider In The House. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a clip of the latter but here’s the next best thing:


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Cristina Fernandez

08 Apr 2013 19:34

Muchas gracias, me ha gustado mucho. Un beso!!



22 Oct 2011 15:34


Lawrence Booth is another trying to unpick the soul of Mark Ramprakash, in a nice piece over at Cricinfo. The first Ramps hundred of the season can have that effect on a man.

In it, he draws attention to Nasser Hussain’s effort on Ramprakash in Wisden. ‘Mark,’ Nasser asks from the wispy pages of the great yellow book, ‘How can you still have the appetite for this?’

The question is more revealing than the answer, because it’s a question predicated on the primacy of Test cricket. Its implication: once you’ve played Test matches, playing other games just isn’t worth it.

Setting aside the fact that asking Nasser Hussain to write about Mark Ramprakash is a bit like asking Dan Brown to write about Martin Amis, the notion that Ramprakash is compensating for his international failures with a long and bloody-minded mea culpa etched into the cricket grounds of England is underestimating both the complexity of the man and the game. His batting’s not so much a mea culpa as a love letter.

Geoffrey Boycott has scored more first-class runs than anyone since the second world war. When he was forced to retire, he said he’d give up the rest of his life to have five more years at his best. It took cancer to draw the fire from that idea, but he says he still never picks up a bat because he finds it too painful. Any thought that Boycott’s Test runs mean more to him than his Yorkshire runs gets short shrift. Boycott loved to bat, and I think Ramprakash loves to bat too.

Nasser Hussain was also a complex man, riven with self-doubt, some of it justified. His relationship with his father was key to his game and his personality. He let cricket go with a sense of relief, and after captaining England the relief was understandable. But Hussain wasn’t Boycott and Boycott wasn’t Ramprakash and Ramprakash wasn’t Tendulkar and Tendulkar wasn’t Steve Waugh and Steve Waugh wasn’t Damian Martin.

They all let go – or will let go – of the game differently, and the game occupies different spaces in their lives. There is no common experience there. Perhaps Mark Ramprakash is tortured. Perhaps he is unfulfilled. But perhaps he just loves to bat. Perhaps he knows that once he stops driving the ball so beautifully, once he stops making all of those hundreds, the feeling will never come back, will never be available to him again.

The aforementioned Martin Amis, another tremendous stylist, was once asked to play a game of snooker against another writer and do a piece about it. He wins the match, but ends his story: ‘As for the snooker, to approach the televisual ideal by which we all measure ourselves, I’d have to do nothing else for the rest of my life. Then snooker might work out and measure up, with everything going where you want it to go, at the right weight and angle. Then snooker might feel like writing’.

For writing and Amis, substitute batting and Ramprakash. For Mark, I’d guess, it just feels right.



22 Oct 2011 10:22

Was Ramprakash really on Hider in the House? I could imagine the Dazzler doing it, but not Ramps. Oh dear.