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On Sunday, 10 August 2003, Breakfast with Frost featured an interview with Mark Ramprakash
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PETER SISSONS: Now, incompetent, embarrassing, a debacle, that's how Ian Botham, one of the giants of cricket, described England's performance in the last Test. Graham Smith and his team, by contrast, made it all look so easy.
Mark Ramprakash is one of the most successful batsmen at county level, and he knows what it's like to face South Africa in a Test match. He's represented England more than 50 times since 1991 so he can give an objective view of how Michael Vaughan's men should prepare for the next match at Trent Bridge.
Mark, welcome, now what about this Test team for Trent Bridge that's just been announced? Stewart and Hussein keep their places, on sentiment or merit?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well I think they were selected two weeks ago as the best, best individuals for the job and I don't think two weeks later they've become bad players overnight.
They obviously are very experienced and England desperately want to get back into this Test series.
PETER SISSONS: But Stewart has chosen to move on and Hussein doesn't look happy. Surely you need someone more motivated?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well of course part of the job for doing that is the captain and coach and I'm sure that they'll be trying to get these two individuals in the best frame of mind for the challenge ahead.
Alex Stewart has always been highly motivated and of course with him announcing his retirement at the end of the summer I'm sure that he will be wanting to go out on a high.
PETER SISSONS: Tell us about these three new caps, Ed Smith, Glen Chapple and Gareth Batty. The pick of the bunch, or would you have reminded the selectors of someone else who might be in the running for a first cap?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well I think by picking Ed Smith the selectors have sent out a very important message to the 18 first class counties because Ed Smith hasn't been through the National Academy which has been set up for young players to pass through, the bridge, to take the bridge from county cricket to test cricket. Ed Smith has had a fantastic season for Kent and -
PETER SISSONS: With the bat, yes.
MARK RAMPRAKASH: - with the bat, and he's showing that, you know, you can still be selected even if you haven't been to the National Academy. If you perform well in county cricket then you've still got a chance of being selected.
PETER SISSONS: And Gareth Batty the Worcester off-spinner, could England play two spinners in this game?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: It's possible. I think they pick an off-spinner to have the option of turning the ball away from the left-hander, this Mr Smith we're finding very difficult to get out, with consecutive double-hundreds. He's an option but I wouldn't expect Trent Bridge, the pitch, to favour two spinners really.
PETER SISSONS: But nothing succeeds like success. I suppose the mood in the England team would change the moment they started to get some South Africans out.
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Yes, well the key man is the captain. I mean he's contributed 270 in the first Test and 260 in the second Test so on the back of that, you know, the South African team are looking to get 5 - 600.
Now if they can dismiss Smith for anything under 50 I would think then they can make inroads into the rest of the middle order.
PETER SISSONS: Do they have a weakness?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: At the moment we haven't found it, and you know -
PETER SISSONS: But what goes through the captain's mind? You're standing there, you've been in the field all day, you haven't got anybody out and there's 500 on the board or whatever, and they're bashing your guys all round the ground, what does the captain do? I mean is there anything he can do? Keep it tight?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well there's - there's - he'll obviously discuss these things with Duncan Fletcher, they'll look at the videos, he'll mix his bowlers around, try different plans, you know, perhaps bowling outside off stump and put seven to field offside, a few short balls, mixing around his bowlers to try and give Graham Smith some different problems and I suppose this is why they've added one or two new bowlers to the attack.
James Kirtley may get a chance to finally play - he's been included in about three or four test squads but hasn't made. And that's all they can do, they've got to really go up there with a lot of fight and intensity and, as you say, try and put the South Africans under pressure.
PETER SISSONS: Hold the catches and no miss-fields. That must be awfully demoralising if the only chance that you get all day goes to ground.
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Yeah, I mean for sure. England have been outplayed really in all three departments so far, the fielding was poor at Lords and, again, I mean it's one area which, I mean England do work pretty hard on, especially under Duncan Fletcher, they have tried very hard to improve things in that area but of course in a concentration - I mean when you're out there for two days that chance can slip away.
PETER SISSONS: Do you give them a chance?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well I think you've got to remember in 1998 England went 1-0 down against South Africa at Lords, scraped through at Old Trafford and actually came back to win the series, so I'm very optimistic that these, these guys, they are good players and they can get back into the series.
PETER SISSONS: And you haven't played test cricket, of course, for a couple of years. Have you ruled out a return at some stage, if you can catch the selectors eye?
MARK RAMPRAKASH: Well I'm enjoying cricket for Surrey and getting a few runs so of course I, I'd love to play again.
At the moment my first priority is playing in a charity match today, with the Bunberries, for an Eric Clapton ... and there will be quite a few people coming along to Ripley, that's down on the A3 ..
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