Test Match Sofa
Surrey decision pushes Ramprakash into retirement
By Mark Pennell
Mark Ramprakash retained his dignity to the end today when announcing, as fully expected, his retirement from cricket after quarter of a decade in the game.
Drawing the curtain on a glorious first-class career of more than 35,000 runs was never going to be easy for the prolific 42-year-old batsman and he admitted as much at the press conference at the Kia Oval.
A perfectionist when it came to technique, training, fitness regimes and even how he looked as a cricketer, both on and off the field, Ramprakash had dreamed of bowing out on his own terms, potentially at the end of this season. But clearly the ultimate decision was partially taken out of his hands.
He said: “I had a tough start to this season but continued to try to remain fit. However, last week I was informed that I was not in Surrey’s selection plans and therefore felt the time was right to step aside.”
The decision, by Surrey’s team director Chris Adams, not to consider the nation’s most experienced player for selection at such a difficult time for the county is perhaps a surprising and controversial one, and it has clearly proven to be the catalyst to Ramprakash’s decision to go now.
“Yes, I felt I had something to give for the second half of the season, but I don’t want to be controversial at this time,” said the winner of 52 England Test caps.
“After being told last week I wouldn’t be part of the team moving forward then I spent the weekend mulling over things. I went out for dinner with Justin Langer on Friday evening, and he’s been a good friend of mine for some years and knows me as well as anyone in the game. We spoke about things and, from my answers, he told me ‘you know Mark, I think now is the right time’.
“Over the past few years I’ve asked lots of ex-professional players ‘how do they know the time is right?' This year I wanted to finish my career strongly and September would be the likely time to look to pastures new, but having had a tough start, having been left out, and not being in Surrey’s selection plans just brought things forward. The last thing you want to do is go on too long and now I feel the time is right.”
In paying tribute to those who have helped support him during his illustrious career, Ramprakash added: “I would like to express how lucky I feel for having had a very long and enjoyable career in a game I enjoy passionately. I would like to publicly thank my parents for allowing me the opportunity to pursue my cricket career. I have learned and continue to learn so much from them as role models.
“I’d also like to thank my coaches, team-mates, fans and club staff for their support through many ups and down. They’ve all been marvellous and many have become life-long friends. I have many memories that I will always cherish.”
As for his future, Ramprakash has qualified as an ECB Level 4 coach and has experience as a Sky Sports pundit and in other forms of the media yet, enticingly, he refused to totally rule out a return to county cricket with another club.
“It’s not really in my mind at the moment. I’ve thought long and hard over this and whether it’s the right thing, and at 42 I had to ask myself if I had the energy and desire to go to a new club and start over. Next year, I’ll be 43 and it’s not really on my mind right now, but I will wait and see what doors open for me.
“Right now I suppose I just hope to be remembered as someone who has given everything, someone who tried to do the hard yards for his side. And probably the best innings I played was my 133 here at The Oval in 2001 against Australia.”
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