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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 12:44 UK

Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia batsman and Somerset captain


Mark Ramprakash
Etched in his face and synonymous by the muscles jutting from his clenched jaw is an aggression and determination reserved for a prize fighter

Watching Mark Ramprakash score his 101st first-class century was like studying a master craftsman plying his trade.

From first slip it felt as though we were witnessing genius at work.

For 337 balls - and I am sure my team-mates won't mind me saying - we did not look like getting him out.

From ball one to his last, when he swaggered through for his 200, he was clinical in his defence and, at times, brutal in his attack. His innings was quite simply a delight to watch, even though he thwarted Somerset's push for full points in another rain-affected game.

If there was ever a masterclass to be studied by any young batsman, or for that matter an ageing veteran, this innings should be replicated in every coaching guide from now to the end of time.

In many ways "Ramps" is something of a paradox at the crease. In his stance he is so still, it is as if he is meditating and minding his own business as the bowlers rush in to the wicket. His stillness is comparable to the eye of a storm.

There is no motion whatsoever, just a clinical, undisturbed calmness about his set-up which indicates incredible concentration on nothing but the ball about to be released from the bowler's hand.

Within this serene and almost peaceful pose is the spirit of a prize fighter who is ready to unleash his fury on the ball, which is granted such a limited margin for error.

Mark Ramprakash
I feel privileged to have had the best seat in the house as Mark Ramprakash provided me with an exhibition of world-class batsmanship

Etched in his face and synonymous by the muscles jutting from his clenched jaw is an aggression and determination reserved usually for a prize fighter.

In one moment you see a Zen master weighing up his options, the next it is like Ricky Hatton flaying his fists and decimating another opponent.

While I have played with and against "Ramps" for many years, Saturday's knock was just another reminder of why he has been the most dominant English first-class cricketer in the last decade. His technique is as close to perfection as I have seen and his concentration and focus is mind blowing.

To have scored over 2,000 in the last two seasons seems almost impossible.

Standing in the slips with Marcus Trescothick we were discussing the prospect of a 2,000-run season. As he pointed out, he has had what would be considered a great season so far and yet he is still 900 runs away from the illusive and almost mystical 2,000-run mark.

Incredibly, Ramps has reached the mark twice in two years.

606: DEBATE
Many theories revolve around his perceived lack of success in the Test arena. My summation is that he initially played against supreme West Indian and Pakistani bowling attacks and then he was dropped over and over by the English selectors.

It is always hard to watch the cricket ball when you have one eye looking over your shoulder and while "Ramps" is the first to say he has so much to prove to himself, it seems to me that his lack of international dominance is a waste of pure entertainment for any cricket purist.

Whatever the case, I feel privileged to have had the best seat in the house as Mark Ramprakash provided me with an exhibition of world-class batsmanship, as he continues to etch his name into the record books.

From Taunton,

JL


see also
Ramprakash shines in Taunton draw
15 Aug 08 |  Counties
Ramprakash used team-mate's bat
06 Aug 08 |  Surrey
Ramprakash career gallery
02 Aug 08 |  Counties
Ramprakash secures historic ton
02 Aug 08 |  Counties
The last centurion?
02 Aug 08 |  Counties


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