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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 16:14 GMT
Ramprakash at cricket's crossroads
By Oliver Brett

Mark Ramprakash
Born: 05.09.69, Bushey, Herts
Test career: 2,350 runs @ 27.32 from 52 Tests
First-class career: 24,787 @ 48.22 in 357 matches

In June 2003, Mark Ramprakash became the first player to score centuries against all 18 first-class counties.

Now aged 35, he is currently trying to convince his second county, Surrey, to offer him a new three-year contract.

In the meantime he is quietly training to be a coach in the winter months.

And at his current rate of progress he will have completed the necessary modules to coach a county side by the summer of 2006.

Ramprakash was - or is - one of the most talented right-handed batsmen of his generation but one who frustrated so often on the international stage.

What went wrong for him?

"I had lots of opportunities and didn't make the most of them," he admits in an interview with BBC Sport.

"I was in and out a lot which didn't help my confidence but at the same time I did earn the right for more opportunities which I didn't take.

"It was a difficult cycle to break."

Being made to reflect on past failures seems to sadden him, and Ramprakash is also uncertain about the future.

"I haven't really decided that I want to be a coach as such," he says.

M Ramprakash
I was immersed in trying to achieve and trying to do as well as I could

"When you get in your 30s you start thinking about life after cricket. Training to be a coach gives me an option outside of cricket.

"I don't think when my career finishes I've a lot of options."

As well as regular spells with the Surrey Academy, where he coaches aspiring teenagers, he has accepted an invitation to the indoor school at Lord's on a chilly day in November.

The International Cricket Council is keen to get coaches across Europe - whether in Scotland or Slovenia - preaching the same message.

Ramprakash is the most familiar name in a stack of former and current county players roped in for the event.

Asked if his days as an international player are now over, he picks his words carefully.

Mark Ramprakash
As a gifted teenager at Middlesex, the world was Ramprakash's oyster

"England have pushed ahead with other players and [coach] Duncan Fletcher has tried very hard to build a nucleus of a side which I think he's getting.

"I think very highly of Robert Key and Ian Bell. They are scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket and it's good to see them being rewarded.

"Things have come quite a long way from my debut in 1991. Things seemed to operate on a very short-term basis and you could end up using 30 players in a series, sometimes more.

"Duncan Fletcher and the ECB have tried to create the consistency of selection which I think has gradually helped the players feel part of a squad, and feel more relaxed and comfortable."

Ironically, by taking courses in psychology and people management to complete his own training to be a coach, Ramprakash can see how the old-style coaching of the 1990s let down young players like himself.

"I tried to make the best of what I was doing," he reflects.

"At the time I was immersed in trying to achieve. I was trying to do as well as I could. Sometimes people outside of [cricket] can sometimes help because they can see it from a different perspective.

"Within cricket as a whole we are starting to hear more and more about the mental game-plan of players and the further you go in cricket the more important it becomes."

ECB punishes Ramprakash
30 Jul 03 |  Surrey
Ramprakash dropped
17 Oct 01 |  Cricket

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