Thursday, July 22, 2010

Watching Mark Ramprakash Bat

Mark Ramprakash was always a batsman I wanted to see play. It is not for nothing that he has been playing first class cricket before I went to kindergarten. For his sheer longevity he to me epitomises as one of those cricketer who connects the traditionalists of the game with the modern commercial environment. At times when the debate of whether the longer version of the game will survive or not comes up, it is a player like him who lends credibility and face to the authenticity of the format.

Watching an institution of runs like him continue his never ending journey of grinding runs day after day, session by session, hour after hour in the English county circuit is a free access to lessons on patience, perseverance, intensity and determination. For anyone who knows the deeper meaning of the game much beyond the wickets and runs on display, watching him bat is a top priority over other not so important commitments as it takes the follower back to those days when the plain simple sound of the ball hitting the bat meant the world rather than discussions revolving around which format of the game would survive and which would not.

The beauty of watching him is that he makes his job look classy which actually is not. The sense of responsibility he brings on with him, the value he attaches to his wicket and the willingness to take those blows one after one without bowing down is what makes him what he is. Playing those focussed dodgy innings and being prepared to look ugly in order to be able to get the team’s job done is what creates an aura around him and associates a sense of romance to his name. For anyone who follows the game at a level below international cricket, Mark Ramprakash is a legend, a name that means bricks of runs without any holes.

Since childhood, I have followed his scores on internet and more than the runs scored, I have been interested in the number of balls constituting that particular innings because to me that speaks about the man’s character. Watching him play live for the first time, I have absorbed with key interest, every ball he left and every defensive stroke he played in the 106 balls he had faced up till this point for his 50. Those moments make me curious to know what goes on between his ears that motivates him and inspires him to play the way he plays. The best I could do was pose with him for a photograph quite aptly with The Brit Oval as the backdrop, the ground which hosted the first test match in the northern hemisphere way back in 1880.

By witnessing his 1000th run of the 2010 county championship season, I have become a small part of his ageless journey. I can only wish him luck and hope that somewhere somehow another chance will be created for me to witness yet another innings of his before he finally decides to explore greener pastures.

He is one of those rare servants of the game who has created an international impact at the domestic level. As a batsman, Mark Ramprakash holds certain traits and possesses a rare art. Only time will be able to answer whether this rare form will continue to exist and excite in the future or not.

On a concluding note, the way he tackled the bouncer at 2.35pm and then followed up with a spectacular square cut for four runs at 2.36pm makes him a monumental figure and keeps me interested in his score card. As he stands tall with a first class statistics of 436 matches, 34481 runs and 112 centuries I get a feeling that for him it is not about how many caps but about how many balls.

Sidhanta Patnaik
This piece was produced between 2.07pm and 2.38pm (20th July 2010) while witnessing Mark Ramprakash progress from 30 to 56 while batting for Surrey CCC against Northamptonshire CCC on the first day of the 2nd division County Championship Match at The Brit Oval, London. He eventually went on to spend 495 minutes at the wicket for his 248 runs which came off 350 balls and consisted of 35 boundaries and 1 six.

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