Ramprakash : Mark of quality?

Ramprakash : Mark of quality?

Post by vigne.. » Sat, 15 May 1993 22:42:30

Ramprakash awaits verdict on restoration

By Martin Johnson

     The England selectors sit down over the luncheon table today
to pick a team  for their first encounter  with Australia, and if
the meal takes the same shape  as the international  season, they
will start with the cigars and finish with a bread roll.

     The Texaco Trophy series is, as usual, placed  at the  start
of the season, when deeds of  derring-do clutter up the issue for
the more  important  trench  warfare  ahead.  The  one-day  inter-
nationals, the  first of which is at Old Trafford  next Wednesday,
would be no less high profile as an end-of-term fireworks display,
and the  early  pre-occupation  with  one-day  cricket  means the
England  captain will  have played in only two Championship games
before the first Test match.

     However, at least  the three  one- dayers  occupy  their own
separate  compartment, which in  theory means that  the selectors
ought to be less confused  than they were  the last time they sat
down together in September.  On that occasion, they picked rather
a decent one-day  squad, which would  have been a  good deal more
perspicacious had  they not appeared to have forgotten that there
were also four Test matches on the winter agenda.

     In the event, not only were England whitewashed in the Tests,
they failed to  win either  one-day series.  An inquest  into the
former  produced the  startling  revelation  that  it was  more a
sartorial disaster than a  cricketing one, and that a swift trans-
formation from Goochie's men  to Gucci's men  should be more than
enough to see off the Aussies this summer.

     Privately, though, the  post mortem  on the  one-day  perfor-
mances led  the team manager, Keith  Fletcher, to  the conclusion
that it was not so much the length of beard that let England down,
as the sort of  fielding that  would only have  been barely toler-
able in W G's day. Ergo, when England's 13-man squad is announced
tomorrow, the ability to save 15 runs in the field will have been
a bigger qualifying factor than the ability to slog 15 at the end
of the innings.

     Regular  employment of  the razor  being a  lesser case  for
career advancement  in the context of close shaves with authority,
Mark Ramprakash was ignored for the India- Sri Lanka tour despite
more impressive credentials against spin than one or two of those
selected, but his  brilliant fielding suggests that he will  have
found his way  back into an  England squad by  lunchtime tomorrow.
Likewise, Naser Hussain must come into the frame, as does another
class fielder, Surrey's Graham Thorpe.

     All of these qualify for a  likely vacancy down the order at
No 5 or No 6, given that  Mike Gatting last week  finished runner-
up in an altercation with a  dressing-room  door, although he may
not have been considered in any case given the accent on agility.

     The selectors  could choose  from any amount of  batsmen not
selected  for India (Ramprakash,  Hussain, Thorpe, Lamb, Lathwell,
Gower,  Maynard, Brown,  Fordham, and  Broad, to  name a few) but
there is no such glut when it comes to bowlers.  Angus Fraser and
Neil Foster  are not fit  enough for consideration, and only Paul
Jarvis and Chris Lewis could  be pencilled in  straight away with
any degree of confidence.

     However, with both  batting and bowling, the selectors would
be well advised not to  inject too much fresh *** for a competi-
tion  that  neither  allows  any  leeway  for  L  plates, nor  is
important  enough to risk interference with either  confidence or
technique.  Keep the likes of  Lathwell, Caddick, and Ilott  pure
and innocent for the moment, and stick to the older lags.

.     This, naturally enough, brings us round to Ian Botham.  The
ageing warhorse  has made his own booking for  the knacker's yard
in September, but still has the  knack of getting people out, and
would certainly be in my squad for these three  matches.  However,
when Lord Ted was canvassed about his chances on the radio a week
ago, half the  audience of  Radio 5 scuttled off to see their GPs
about acquiring a hearing aid. Botham himself has been making his
customary bullish  noises, but I think we can take it that Dexter
will be***ing another deaf 'un.

My 13 would be:  
Gooch, Stewart, Smith, Hick, Fairbrother, Ramprakash, Lamb,
Lewis, Botham, DeFreitas, Reeve, Illingworth, Jarvis.

Wednesday 19 May: Old Trafford; Friday 21 May: Edgbaston;
Sunday 23 May: Lord's.

Thanks   :::    The Independent


UMass, May 14, 1993