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Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:46 UK

Ramprakash ready for Test call-up

Mark Ramprakash
Ramprakash says he has "evolved" in recent years

Veteran Mark Ramprakash has told BBC Sport he would be "thrilled" to make a Test comeback for the Ashes decider.

The outstanding batsman on the county circuit for the past decade, the right-hander, who turns 40 in September, last played Test cricket in 2002.

He said: "This Test match has been built up into a fantastic showpiece occasion, it's the sort of occasion that you cherish and savour."

The Surrey pro said he had had "no contact at all" with the selectors.

Ramprakash's statistics at domestic level are nothing short of awesome, and he has improved with age, averaging 91 in the past four years for his county and in excess of 100 in the current campaign. Another significant factor in his favour is that Surrey play their home cricket at The Oval, the venue of the final Test against Australia.

Overall, he has chalked up 108 first-class centuries at an average of 54.35.

He played the last of his 52 Tests in 2002, and generally disappointed at that level, with an average of 27.32. But he did average 42.40 in Ashes encounters, and hit a century against Steve Waugh's Australians at The Oval in 2001.

Though England's main concern in the Ashes decider this time will be getting the 20 wickets required to win the match on a traditionally flat wicket, it is the performances of England's middle order batting which have caused the most concern, and the most recent debate over selection issues.

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Ravi Bopara, England's current number three, has scored only 105 runs in seven innings, while Ian Bell - brought in after Kevin Pietersen was forced out through injury, has made 64 from three knocks at number four. In the defeat at Headingley, where England were all out for 102 on the first day, Bopara and Bell collected 12 runs between them from both innings.

That has led to speculation that at least one out of Ramprakash, Marcus Trescothick and Robert Key may be brought back for the must-win match, while Warwickshire's Jonathan Trott was in the squad for the Headingley Test, though he did not start.

To add to the intrigue, Bopara and Bell were both dismissed for one in county matches on Wednesday, with Trott out for 15. Ramprakash's Surrey are not playing a Championship match this week, though he hit a quick 24 in their day-night limited-overs match against Glamorgan.

Ramprakash, speaking to former Surrey and England team-mate Alec Stewart, said: "With the situation that happened at Headingley and the manner of the defeat, speculation whipped up into a storm really.

Mark Ramprakash and his dance partner Karen Harding
Mark Ramprakash and Karen Harding in Strictly Come Dancing

"It's come around quickly, but I'm no stranger to this. It's happened to me before. In the last two Ashes trips to Australia and in the last tour to Sri Lanka my name was linked to those trips and I felt I presented a very strong case to be selected for those trips.

"I have never made any comment because I believe it's up to the selectors to select the side and I've always tried to perform on the field and let those performances do my talking."

One principal drawback for selecting Ramprakash is that he frequently looked overcome by nerves in Test cricket, but he says he has matured since then and feels that would no longer be an issue.

Ramprakash added: "People seem to talk as though it's still 1995, but I think as a player and as a person you are constantly evolving, developing and improving. That's the way I've tried to go about my career, and I think my results in the last 10 years have been very good for Surrey.

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"I last played Test cricket at 32 on the trip to New Zealand I struggled over there along with quite a few players on some juicy pitches and I think [captain] Nasser Hussain said it was a close thing to leave me out and finally put a line through my name.

"I'm very pleased with the way that I've continued to play for Surrey. I've gone onto the ECB level four coaching programme and I've been involved for 14 weeks in a reality TV show [BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, which he won in 2006] - things like that give you life experiences.

"If I had known 10 years ago what I know now there's no question I would be in a better frame of mine to approach Test cricket."

Mark Ramprakash playing against Australia

A look back at Ramprakash's 100 centuries



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see also
Bopara and Bell struggle for form
12 Aug 09 |  England
Surrey want swift Ramprakash call
11 Aug 09 |  England
Ramprakash in England contention
10 Aug 09 |  England
Key 'dreaming' of Ashes call-up
11 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale
10 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Flower hints at batting changes
09 Aug 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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