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Ramprakash wanted to carry on
Mark Ramprakash has announced his retirement after being told that he was not part of Surrey's selection plans for the rest of the season. He brought an end to his 25-year career but insisted he is still more than capable of playing county cricket.
"I want to go out there now and play," Ramprakash said. "I still feel I can play at this level without doubt, that's what I've trained for. Even though I was left out of the side, I've been committed to playing at this level."
Ramprakash, 42, made only 107 runs in five County Championship matches this season, including only the third pair of his career, before being dropped.
"I had a tough start to this season but I continued to try and remain fit and wanted to play. However, last week I was informed I was not in Surrey's selection plans, therefore I decided it was time to step aside.
"So much has happened to the club this season I really wanted to try and contribute," Ramprakash said, reflecting on the tragic death of Tom Maynard and the subsequent indefinite compassionate leave granted to captain Rory Hamilton-Brown that has created a difficult environment at The Oval.
But even amid such emotional turmoil, Surrey found no place for Ramprakash, whose retirement means they have also discarded the services of the most experienced player in county cricket.
"It's been a very difficult decision to make," Ramprakash said. "I asked lots of professional players about when they knew the time was right. This year I wanted to come in and finish my career strongly and September would likely be the time that I'd look to pastures new. But not being in Surrey's plans that sort of moved things forward and the last thing you want to do is go on too long. I feel the time is right now.
"I would like to express how lucky I feel to have had a long and enjoyable career in a game that I love passionately. It's been an honour and a privilege to represent Middlesex, Surrey and England."
Ramprakash maintains the belief that he can still perform at county level but ruled out, for the time being, a move to another county. "That's not in my mind at the moment," he said. "I thought long and hard over the weekend. In my mind I'm looking to push on. I had to ask myself whether I had the energy and desire to go to a new club. Next year I'll be 43, is it just delaying the inevitable?"
Outside a match in the Middlesex League on Saturday for Stanmore and appearances for the Professional Cricketers Association Masters XI his playing future is unsure.
Ramprakash said he wanted to be remembered as a player who gave everything for his side and shrugged off suggestions of regret at his international career. "You do the best you can at that time and I know I couldn't have trained any harder. I tried to listen to the right people and I did the best I could at that time. And if you know that you don't look back with any regrets."
He named his 133 against Australia at The Oval in 2001 as his best innings and praised the changes during the later stages of his career that have meant the England team of the current era is better prepared for success.
"The England structure has developed so much. From when Duncan Fletcher took over there's been much more made of trying to create a team feel. When you speak to players backs in the 1990s we had our county helmets on, we used to play for the county, play a Test match and then go back to the county.
"You can see the results. There is such togetherness and a team feel to England now, debutants feel well looked after and it's a great credit to the management and backroom staff that they integrate players in a smooth way."
As for the future, Ramprakash says he enjoys watching and talking about cricket and is keen to keep up his media work; he impressed as an analyst during ITV's coverage of this season's IPL. But he is also a Level 4-qualified ECB coach. "I've been involved in the game a long time and seen lots of good players. Coaching does interest me. I enjoy working with young players and accelerating their learning."
But for now Ramprakash leaves the game with his greatest achievement having scored a hundred first-class centuries. "I don't think I'll be the last one," he said.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo