Sunday, 15 May 2011

Ramps: More Die Of Heartbreak

There's a nice piece with Mark Ramprakash in the new All Out Cricket. It's a simple idea: he was asked for 10 definitive moments from his career, and the results are short but sweet, or rather bittersweet, as things with Ramps usually are.

His final choice is his hundredth hundred, in 2008 against Yorkshire. 'There was a Test match on at the time and we were batting out a draw, so it was pretty low-key,' he says. 'Having said that, I was captain, Goughie was captain of Yorkshire and my parents came to watch, which was nice in terms of emotion. I'm in no way complacent about the achievement; I'm chuffed to bits and incredibly grateful to have had a long career but I know that only two of those hundreds are Test hundreds. When you look at the other players on that list, they're all great international players so my emotions relating to this achievement are qualified'.

He catches, in that brief paragraph, almost everything that make make him the figure that he is, the brooding symbol of an era. How much remorse echoes behind the words 'there was a Test match on at the time' - with its unspoken implication that he wasn't playing in it. Then the achknowlegement of a small group of people present who'd grasp exactly what he was feeling.

There's a tremendous wistfulness to his ambivalence, and it's gently heartbreaking that he doesn't feel worthy of his place on the list. He is. There may be only two Test hundreds, but they were high-quality ones, and there are few bowlers in the game that he hasn't bested sometime, somewhere. To put the achievement in context, Andrew Strauss made a hundred against Sri Lanka at the weekend. It was the 36th of his career. Ramprakash has been a phenomenon, and the rest is just life and its way.

NB: He also tells a good story about Dominic Cork selling him a bat for fifty quid. He got almost two thousand runs in a season with it. Corky's probably still got the fifty sheets, too...


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Lynn said...

Lovely piece. Thank you for this.

John Halliwell said...

It is a lovely piece.

I do hope Ramps and Goughie entertained the crowd with a foxtrot before play started and a waltz during the lunch break - with each other, naturally.

When watching him bat for England, one longed for Ramprakash to throw-off the self imposed mental shackles and take the attitude of "Bollocks, it's a game not life and death." Like Lathwell, he was gloriously talented, but that apparent mental fragility denied us the sight of a great, free-flowing England batsman, regularly destroying international attacks. Sad.

Patricia said...

Sad? - no. But it is certainly interesting.

What would we have talked about all these years.

John Halliwell said...

Well, Patricia, I'm certainly with you in terms of the interesting converstion we can have about how things are rather than what might have been, but I remain sad that I can't engage in discussion about an imperious Ramps at Test level. If only I could say: "What about that double hundred at Edgbaston in 2005? The timing of those three straight sixes into the pavilion off Lee will stay in the memory forever, and the way he danced down the wicket to Warne....." I'm sure the talent was there to play just like that.

Miah said...

Great post. Perhaps most people wouldn't call Ramps a true 'great', to use a too oft applied word, but he is nonetheless my favourite player by far. I can't think of another batsman I would rather watch or have got more pleasure from watching, and that - to me at least - makes him a great player. It's also the finest compliment I can bestow.

diogenes said...

on the international stage, there were some cameos - the Ashes tour of 98/99, the 5th test in 2001 when he was head and shoulders above the other English batters, even playing Warne in the way that old-fashioned batters used to play spinners before the bad-pad block became the fashion in England.