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Ramprakash's 7 lean years over

by Vic Marks

14 March

IT was a long time coming.

The last 20 runs that Mark Ramprakash needed for that century took 95 minutes. Prior to that there had been seven years of agonising famine since his Test debut against the West Indies at Headingley in 1991.

Yesterday, there were hints of edginess as he approached the landmark. A loose, aerial drive off McLean took him to 97. He started looking for singles that weren't there. Walsh, as niggardly as ever, teased him for a while. Then, an exquisite back foot drive off McLean and he was there.

He waved the bat in exultation and relief. His partner, Graham Thorpe, usually so phlegmatic, embraced him. Brian Lara and David Williams spontaneously shook his hand this series has been hard-fought, but there is an abundance of mutual respect and goodwill between the teams. Everyone at Kensington treasured a special moment and a special century, Ramprakash's first in 38 innings for England.

In a lull in play an over later, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Clayton Lambert, both Guyanese-born like Ramprakash's father, made a point of shaking his hand as well. Fellow professionals even in opposition recognised how much this 100 meant. They knew about all the torment that had preceded it, of Ramprakash's inexplicable failure to display his talents at Test level. There, but for the grace of God ....

Ramprakash is not the first class act to take years to do his gifts justice. His predecessor as Middlesex captain, Mike Gatting, took 58 innings before hitting his maiden century in Bombay in 1984; he went on to score nine more.

Ramprakash can do the same. His technique on a blameless track was impeccable. Over the years, it has been honed by Desmond Haynes during the Barbadian opener's stay at Middlesex. Like Haynes, Ramprakash's left leg is withdrawn a little in his stance so that he doesn't get tangled up playing across his front pad. Otherwise, classical orthodoxy is his hallmark.

Yet, he's always had a fine technique that sat awkwardly alongside an appalling Test record. So what is the new magic elixir? Ramprakash himself can't supply one. In truth there probably isn't ONE.

It may be that parenthood and the Middlesex captaincy has made him less introspective about his batting. The sports pyschologist in the England set up might just have helped a bit.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 14 Mar1998 - 19:07