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Ramprakash in England contention

Mark Ramprakash
Ramprakash averages 27.32 in 52 Tests for England

England national selector Geoff Miller has refused to rule out recalling Surrey batsman Mark Ramprakash for the decisive fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

England could be forced into middle order changes following their humiliating innings and 80 runs defeat by Australia at Headingley.

Ramprakash, 39, made the last of his 52 Test appearances in 2002, but has been in prolific form for his county.

"I'm not ruling anybody out," Miller told Radio 5 live.

"What we have to do as selectors is measure the quality of what they are doing in domestic cricket and whether they can do it internationally. There's a lot more pressure in Test cricket, it's a different game altogether.

"The players we have in the side are good enough to be international players. It doesn't necessarily mean, all of a sudden, that they are not good enough.

"We stay loyal with the players unless we feel it's completely necessary to make those changes.

"We will sit down and work out the best way forward."

Coach Andy Flower has suggested changes could be made to England's batting personnel for The Oval following the abject, series-levelling defeat inside three days in the fourth Test.

Ravi Bopara, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, who replaced the injured Kevin Pietersen in the third Test at Edgbaston, contributed a total of 16 runs in Leeds.

While England wilted under an Australian onslaught, Ramprakash showed he was still going strong with 134 not out against Derbyshire on Sunday.

It was his 108th first-class century of his career, moving him level with Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas in 16th place on the all-time list.

Ramprakash's ton followed a season's best 274 against Leicestershire last week at The Oval, taking his overall first-class runs tally to 1209 for the season.

"If I was an England selector picking my best side, he'd be in it," Surrey cricket manager Chris Adams told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He is playing the best cricket of his life. He has done so for three years. I believe strongly he has been the best batsman available for England for those three years.

"I know Kevin Pietersen would have something to say about that but from what I've seen from Mark this year he is an exceptional batsman, a batsman at the top of his game."

Adams echoed comments made by former England captain Alec Stewart, also a Surrey stalwart, who suggested a one-off return for Ramprakash might be the best option for a side enduring a middle-order crisis.

Only one England batsman, skipper Andrew Strauss, has scored a century in the series so far, compared to Australia's return of seven.

Earlier in the summer, Essex batsman Bopara cemented his place at number three with three consecutive centuries against West Indies but the 24-year-old has struggled against Australia, scoring 105 runs in seven innings at an average of 15.

The 24-year-old will attempt to bolster his ailing confidence with much-needed runs after he was included in Essex's 12-man County Championship squad to play Middlesex at Lord's on Tuesday, along with England team-mate Alastair Cook.

TOM FORDYCE BLOG

Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott, who was included in England's squad for the fourth Test, is another player being touted to replace Bopara for The Oval Test, which starts on 20 August.

Kent captain Rob Key is also in contention, with former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew backing his inclusion.

Key told BBC's Sportsweek he thought Bopara had been unlucky in the series.

"He's a fine player and I think there's a return on an investment to be had on someone like Ravi," Key said.

"He's a young guy and I think he will be one of England's best batsmen, he's just having a tough time at the minute.

"And I wouldn't be afraid to put him down the order a little bit, maybe someone like Collingwood go in at number three and let Ravi go a bit lower down."

But it is Ramprakash, who won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing show in 2006, whose name is causing the biggest stir.

The right-hander has played 52 Tests, scoring 2350 runs at an average of 27.32 with 12 half-centuries and two tons.

In 12 Tests against Australia he has notched 933 runs at an average of 42.40 with one century, coming at The Oval in 2001.

Mark Ramprakash playing against Australia

Ramprakash - 100 centuries

He was dropped after scores of nine and two against New Zealand in Auckland seven years ago but has since moved from Middlesex to Surrey and continued to dominate opposition bowling attacks at county level.

The right-hander scored 1235 runs in the County Championship last season, when he became only the 25th player to score 100 first-class centuries with a ton against Yorkshire at Headingley.

"He's a fine player, whether it's the right time to bring him back into a Test match is a different story," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

"It's amazing how quickly things change either the way the media sees the team or even the way the team looks upon itself."



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see also
England quintet face county stint
10 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale
10 Aug 09 |  England
Flower hints at batting changes
09 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
09 Aug 09 |  England
England should not panic - Hayden
09 Aug 09 |  Australia
Huge Surrey stand in vain at Oval
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Ramprakash century holds up Leics
02 Aug 09 |  Counties
Patient Ramprakash guides Surrey
02 Jul 09 |  Counties
Ramprakash too good for Glamorgan
08 Jun 09 |  Counties
Ramprakash career gallery
02 Aug 08 |  Counties
Ramprakash to play on until 2009
29 Jan 07 |  Surrey
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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