The Electronic Telegraph carries daily news and opinion from the UK and around the world.

Ramprakash rewarded for all-round ability

Christopher Martin-Jenkins

18 March 1998

A WONDERFUL month in the life of Mark Ramprakash continued yesterday with his return to the England one-day side for the five internationals which will follow the final Test in Antigua later this week.

Ramprakash, Angus Fraser and Jack Russell have been added to a party of 15 which will be led by Mike Atherton and includes 11 members of the squad who won the four nations tournament in Sharjah last December under Adam Hollioake.

Originally, 12 of the Sharjah group were chosen, including five members of the team who have been in the West Indies for the main business of the tour for the last three months: Hollioake, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Dean Headley and Robert Croft. The odd man out is Ashley Giles, who has been advised not to risk aggravating an Achilles injury on the hard grounds of the Caribbean.

That is a pity, especially as the comparison between Giles and Phil Tufnell, albeit trying in this instance to do completely different jobs, would have been interesting. Giles, a far better batsman than his senior rival, was both the most active and, with 25 wickets, the most successful bowler on England's recent A tour to Sri Lanka.

The fact that Ramprakash emerged as such a talented off-spinner in the Bridgetown Test which ended in a rain-ruined draw on Monday was a factor in his selection for the one-day games.

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, who is staying on to manage the auxiliary one-day players when they arrive for practice in Barbados on Friday, said he would be doing his best to persuade the Middlesex captain that he should bowl himself regularly in county cricket this season.

Fraser had to be included on merit after his performances in the four Tests in which he has bowled. He now has 26 wickets, one behind John Snow, whose record of 27 from five Tests in 1967-68 equalled the best in any series by an overseas bowler in the West Indies.

Whether it is in Fraser's long-term interests to finish the tour with a series of demanding one-day matches in high temperatures is questionable, however. On his current form he will have to play 11 more Test matches - against South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia - in the next 10 months.

Graveney said he would probably be looking to apply the 'gentlemen's agreement' with county chairmen to rest key players at certain times more often than most in Fraser's case next season.

Since Ramprakash and Mike Gatting, one of the three-man home selection committee, are the two senior players on the Middlesex staff, any requests to rest Fraser this summer are almost certain to be given a sympathetic hearing, but it will be interesting to see if he is needed for the internationals in Australia when the Tests have concluded next winter. On the one hand he might well be exhausted; on the other he might be anxious to try to gain a place in the World Cup the following May and June.

The third man asked to stay on after the Tests, Jack Russell, has had a disappointing tour, but his innings in Bridgetown was the one which started England's heartening revival. Individual to a fault, he nevertheless remains a great team man and an effective one-day cricketer. He is in the 15 largely as cover for Alec Stewart.

Graveney spent some time yesterday justifying the original decision of the selectors to ask Atherton to captain the one-day matches as well as the Tests, despite Hollioake's success on and off the field as leader in Sharjah. Atherton averages only 20 in internationals over the last two years but England's one-day form under his command against Australia early last summer (they won 3-0) was no less impressive than that of Hollioake's side before Christmas.

Graveney said he wanted to see how Atherton and England get on in the final Test, and in the internationals, before sitting down with Gatting and the third selector, Graham Gooch, to assess the winter past and the busy agenda ahead. If he scores significantly this weekend, England finish the series well and his suspect back continues to respond to the regular anti-inflammatory tablets he is obliged to take, Atherton is likely to remain in command against South Africa.

It is more likely, however, that Hollioake will lead the World Cup campaign next year and for that reason he should be given command of the one-day team for the games against South Africa and Sri Lanka this season, even if Atherton's ability against the new ball on early-season pitches makes him a candidate to open the batting. Whether he does will depend, no doubt, on how he performs as a batsman in all the remaining matches on this tour.

The Test party flew to Antigua early yesterday morning and were due to have lunch at the match to open the cricket centre where their pre-tour net practice was wrecked by rain in early January. The rain came back to haunt them in Barbados, reminding them of the consequences of their failure to finish the job in the first of the two Trinidad Tests. They should be going into the last match of the series one in front, not one behind.

Pace bowler Ian Bishop and wicketkeeper David Williams have been dropped by West Indies for the final Test. They are replaced in a squad of 13 by Jamaican fast bowler Franklyn Rose and wicketkeeper Junior Murray, of the Windward Islands, both of whom are returning to Test cricket.

ENGLAND ONE-DAY SQUAD: *M A Atherton, A J Hollioake, N V Knight, A J Stewart, M R Ramprakash, B C Hollioake, G P Thorpe, G A Hick, M A Ealham, M V Fleming, R D B Croft, -R C Russell, A D Brown, A R C Fraser, D W Headley.

WEST INDIES SQUAD: *B C Lara, C B Lambert, P A Wallace, C L Hooper, S Chanderpaul, J C Adams, R I C Holder, -J R Murray, C E L Ambrose, F A Rose, N A M McLean, C A Walsh, D Ramnarine.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at
Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 18 Mar1998 - 11:27