Ramprakash will not be considered by England

 

MARK RAMPRAKASH is out of England's immediate World Cup plans after the latest disappointment in his personal South Africa tour nightmare.

England manager Ray Illingworth confirmed yesterday that Middlesex batsman Ramprakash will not be considered for at least the first two games of the seven-match one-day international series against the South Africans which starts in Cape Town tomorrow.

And that means that Ramprakash's last chance of salvaging something from a wretched winter probably disappeared with his first ball duck in Saturday's three-wicket defeat against Western Province.

And it is of no consolation at all to the 26-year-old to know that he almost certainly should not have been given out.

Ramprakash is sporting a bruise on his forearm, showing that the ball did not hit him on the glove before it looped to cover, but that tangible evidence serves only to heighten the misery of a player who began the tour so brightly and with such high hopes following a prolific summer.

Yesterday's match, arranged when the final Test against South Africa finished inside three days, was aimed at giving England's five newly-arrived one-day specialists some much-needed match practice and local cricket fans some extra entertainment.

New boys like Craig White, Neil Fairbrother and Dermot Reeve all performed well, while Neil Smith and Phil De Freitas also emerged with credit.

All-rounder White, in particular, looks like going straight into the side for tomorrow's one-day opener after scoring a positive 46 and then bowling tightly until his final over the penultimate one of the match went for 18 runs as first Faiek Davids smashed him for tour and six and then Paul Kirsten ended the contest with an inside edged boundary.

Davids and Kirsten dramatically swung a match which had long been controlled by England with an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 68 in 49 balls.

Davids' 55 not out took just 39 deliveries and England's players looked stunned when they left the field

Yet even the pain of defeat, against a Provincial side well below strength, could not have been stronger than that felt by Ramprakash when umpire Robbie Brooks' finger went up.

His last three innings have all" been ducks, and in those knocks - spread over 35 days - Ramprakash has faced only six balls. The bad run started with scores of four and nought in the second Test in Johannesburg in early December and in his only innings in between then and yesterday he made a third-ball duck against Boland on December 10.

Illingworth said: "Mark appeared to get a bad decision but that's what happens when you are struggling.

"This kind of thing happens to the very best of players - Denis Compton averaged only seven on a tour of Australia once.

"We will be picking our best team for Tuesday's game and Mark is not in that."

The England manager was heartened by the form shown by the new faces on tour, plus the hostility of a fit again Darren Gough. He dismissed the result of the match by saying it had served its purpose anyway as a good-quality workout.

But Illingworth is going into the one-day international series. which represents England's World Cup warm-up, warning senior players like Alec Stewart and Robin Smith that sweeping changes might have to follow a poor one-day campaign over the next couple of months.

A had World Cup, on the heels of the 1-0 Test defeat against South Africa, would naturally force Illingworth to rebuild.

White, in fact, may be setting a trend by coming straight from the England A tour of Pakistan to force his way into the senior line-up.

All five new arrivals can expect to play tomorrow and, sadly, Ramprakash seems to be one of those pushed aside to make way for that influx.