• Ex-player had no ‘automatic right to keep doing it’
• Ramprakash defends red-ball batsman, citing schedule issues
Three days after Mark Ramprakash learned that he had been sacked as England’s batting coach he had an opportunity to rant and rave at the injustice of it all on The Tuffers and Vaughan Show, broadcast on Radio Five Live, on Monday night. He declined to do that in a measured interview.
“Any time there is a change of management there can be movement. I was quickly signed up by Andrew Strauss. With a new man [Ashley Giles in this case] comes different ideas,” he said. “I have been lucky to do this job for five years and no one has an automatic right to keep doing it.” Ramprakash gave just one monosyllabic answer. “Yes,” he said when asked whether he had a straight conversation with Giles.
In fact Ramprakash, who played for England when the management of the team could be chaotic, gave a glowing reference to his recent colleagues. “The environment at international level is better now‚” he said. “The players integrate the newcomers and help them feel relaxed. The senior ones are good at welcoming the new ones.”
“There are some fantastic people among the backroom staff,” he said and he clearly included Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, who was not as influential as Giles in Ramprakash’s departure. “Coaches can sometimes get in the way. Trevor allows the players to own the dressing room. He has no ego, is very patient and has a dry sense of humour. He keeps them happy and relaxed, which is an important thing at that level.”
Ramprakash has been compelled to witness a few nasty collapses on his watch and the inability of his batsmen to ride out tricky periods against the new ball when there is excessive movement. But he was careful not to criticise the men he has been charged with coaching. “Top orders in Test cricket have been struggling all around the world – while the white ball often has not been moving at all.” Instead he was more inclined to defend the specialist red-ball batsmen at the top of the order. “There are some stats suggesting that wickets are falling more cheaply than at any time since 1959.”
He added: “The county scheduling makes it more difficult. There is a preference for the white ball in June, July and August. An even spread of first-class cricket would help them. We don’t have the same number of players who are prepared to just hang in there against the moving ball.”
Ramprakash acknowledged that the shift towards the Hundred is hardly likely to reverse that trend. “But the best players, like Virat [Kohli] Kane [Williamson] and Joe [Root] still want to excel at the art of batting.”
As for Ramprakash himself, he is open to offers. He would be interested in becoming more than just a batting coach and in working in “franchise cricket”. Whoever employs him will discover Ramprakash is more of a calm presence than in his fiery youth as a batsman.