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“England can’t afford to lose Pietersen” – Ramprakash

The England cricket side cannot afford to let go of a player of Kevin Pietersen’s calibre, according to England and Surrey veteran Mark Ramprakash.  

The prolific batsman, who retired after 25 years of first class cricket earlier this summer, was speaking exclusively to The UKAsian during the 2012 Asian Achiever’s Awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Central London, September 14.

Ramprakash said he was glad that the South African-born Pietersen still had a way back into the English set up.  

“There’s no doubt the England side are stronger with him in at No. 04.  It’s been a difficult summer for England and I’m just happy that the ECB has left the door open for Kevin because he’s just too good a player for England to let go”, Ramprakash said, referring to on-going discussions between the player the English board over the very public falling-out over Twitter messages and Pietersen’s desire to pick and choose the matches he plays for England.

Ramprakash, 43, also said that England’s demotion from the top Test match side in the world had taken the gloss off what had been a remarkable summer of sport for Britain.  

“Everyone is disappointed that we lost the No. 01 spot.  At the end of the day, England lost to a very, very good South African side and that’s life.  Players like (South Africans) Hashim Amla and (Vernon) Philander were unstoppable.”

“The important thing is that England are still a good side.  There are a lot of young players coming through.  They will have a very tricky tour to India with a new captain and possibly without two of their most experienced campaigners.  But England have proven time and again over the past two or three years that they are able to bounce back whatever the conditions and I’m confident they will.”

Ramprakash himself is no stranger to not living up to potential as well as to bouncing back decisively.  

A batting star for Middlesex county at the tender age of 17, Ramprakash was blessed with a classical style and sound technique and was earmarked for great things from a very young age.

Mentally however, he was ill-prepared for the biggest stage.

Despite being a remarkably prolific batsman for both Middlesex and Surrey – Ramprakash is one of a handful of batsmen to have made one hundred First Class centuries – he never quite got going for England, averaging less than 25 from 52 Test matches.

Fortunately, for a man who has strived to become the best at what he does, his First Class record will ensure he will be granted legendary status in Cricketing history.

What’s more, he has proven adept away from the cricket pitch – notwithstanding a rather turbulent personal life.

Ramprakash acquired the moniker of ‘Snake Hips’ as he sashayed his way to victory on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2006 and has been a regular fixture on a number of TV shows as well as commentating during the English home season.

At the Asian Achiever’s Awards 2012, he played the role of MC for the night alongside DJ Lora.  

Ramprakash says: “It was a huge decision to retire and it still hasn’t sunk in after two months but I suppose it was inevitable.  I’m hoping to cultivate some media work, do some coaching as well and hopefully one or two doors will open for me.”

With myriad sports firmly embedded in the public’s conscience this summer, sporting heroes are set to be richly rewarded, especially come the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.  

The same people who decried the awarding of wholesale honours to England’s flash-in-the-pan Ashes winners back in 2005 have long called for Ramprakash to be honoured for his far more substantial contribution to the sport, particularly to First Class cricket.

The man himself though, isn’t getting his coattails dry-cleaned just yet: “If an honour comes from the Palace it would be great.  I’m not holding my breath though!”

– Viji Alles

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