Test Match Sofa
Ramps "up there with the best": Darren Gough
By Mark Pennell
He shared dressing rooms with him, danced against him, bowled at him and even tried "knocking his block off" a few times, so few cricketers know what made Mark Ramprakash tick better than his one-time England team-mate and
ballroom predecessor Darren Gough.
The former England and Yorkshire paceman was at the Kia Oval when Ramprakash announced his retirement from the first-class game and paid his own inimitable tribute to the former Surrey and Middlesex batsman.
"Ramps was a fantastic player and I’ve always been happy to go public in saying so,” said Gough. "I know his Test record doesn’t prove it, but technically he was up there with the best to play for England.
“When you bowled at him in a county game you always knew his was the wicket you wanted, the man you wanted to get out. In county cricket he was up there with Graeme Hick as the guy you had to get.
“I was playing in the game when he scored his hundredth first-class hundred against Yorkshire at Headingley. I was captain of Yorkshire that day and it was a fantastic moment for Ramps. That said, I was trying my hardest not to let him get it and I did let him have a couple.
“He was good against pace and at times he likes to come after you. He was unusual as a batter as he would play at different tempos. Most players have a rhythm they stick to, but Ramps was different. Some days he would attack me, others he would see me off, and that made him a stand-out opponent in my mind because I could never quite work out what mood he was in.”
Gough added: “Playing against him was always a pleasure and, at the same time, a real battle. He is a lovely bloke, yes he has a temper that most people know about, but off the field and away from the cricket ground he’s a fantastic gentleman and I really enjoy his company."
As for why Ramprakash struggled to repeat his form in county cricket at Test level, Gough said: “It’s not disrespect to the guys playing international cricket these days, but you only have to go back 15 or 20 years and look at the teams Ramps was batting against.
“The West Indies had Marshall, Walsh, Ambrose, Benjamin, Patterson. When he faced Pakistan they had Waqar, Wasim, Aqib and great wrist spinners like Mushtaq Ahmed. When he came up against Australia, they’d pick Warne, Glenn McGrath and South Africa had Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. Let’s be honest, look at the West Indies and Australian attacks now compared to then, it’s a different game.
“I would still have expected Ramps to score more in Test cricket than he did, but he didn’t half bat against some decent bowlers. If he were starting out now, I think his record would be very different.”
And as for the question of who is the better ballroom dancer, Gough – through gritted teeth – had little doubt.
He added: “Away from cricket Ramps is a really quiet bloke and it’s funny but at first he was really unsure about going on the
Strictly Come Dancing
show. But I spoke to him and encouraged him to do it. I thought it would be really good for his profile and, lo and behold, he went on and won it.
“Ramps is how you expect a dancer to be: he’s supple, good looking and he has quite a classy technique too, yet I beat him in the champion of champions’ event!
“My dancing was like my cricket. I always believed in entertaining the public, whereas Ramps was all about technique and getting a 10 off Craig Revel Horwood. We were two different blokes on the cricket pitch and were equally different on the dance floor. Yes, I won the champion of champions’ but, if I’m really honest, he’s technically the better dancer.”
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