In particular, he singled out England’s treatment of Haseeb Hameed, who was dropped for the tour of the West Indies following a poor run in the 2021/22 Ashes. The opener had scored 80 runs at an average of 10 in a series which his team lost 0-4, losing his place in the side after four Tests. His most recent stint in international cricket had come nearly five years after his debut. He had begun impressively, scoring two fifties in three Tests against India at home, but his form fizzled out Down Under.
Ramprakash discussed England’s red-ball troubles in a column for the Guardian.
“If we are to create an experienced core we must keep faith in the best of our young players, which means celebrating their successes and forgiving their failures. There is a lot of scrutiny in red-ball cricket,” Ramprakash said. “As a batter you’re expected to make good decisions for long periods of time and there is not a lot of understanding when attention slips and you pay the price.
“These players’ confidence has to be protected, by making sure they are in supportive environments at their counties and with England, surrounded by people who trust them, who know their games and their personalities.”
England have given debuts to 21 batters, all-rounders and wicketkeepers since the start of 2015, and only one of those, Rory Burns, averages more than 30 in Test cricket. Ramprakash feels that the pressure of needing to perform straightaway is holding some players back.
“Batters often go through cycles of getting picked, not doing well, getting dropped and eventually getting selected again – and every time the pressure is heightened,” he said. “That makes it harder still to be clear‑minded and find a simple, repeatable method in the way you bat. Players need to focus, but they also need to be relaxed enough to enjoy the occasion.”
He cited Ollie Pope and Hameed as examples of players who needed to be supported, and encouraged England to do the same with Zak Crawley, who was dismissed in single figures four times in six innings in the West Indies.
“In saying this I am remembering my own experiences but also thinking about players such as Ollie Pope, who is considered by a lot of people in the game to be a high-class young player, and Haseeb Hameed, who was dropped after the Ashes when I am absolutely convinced he would have been successful in the West Indies, certainly in Antigua and Barbados,” he said.
“I am thinking also of Zak Crawley, who has talent and needs to be supported as he tries to learn quickly from his mistakes, to be more clinical with his execution without losing his aggressive intent, while Dan Lawrence shows promise but still has work to do on his technique.”
He also argued that England should refrain from selecting “more youngsters” to solve their batting woes, as has been their tendency in recent years. He touted Middlesex openers Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman as two players who could be in with a chance of a recall.
“In their desperation to reset the ambitions and the results of the red-ball team, I am not sure it would be wise for England to call up more youngsters,” Ramprakash said. “Not when there are people in the county game who have shown over a period of time an ability to adapt to different wickets, counter different types of bowling and show good decision-making.
“I spent some time this week at Merchant Taylors’ School watching Middlesex play Surrey. Rory Burns was there, a bit of a comedown from playing in the Ashes in Australia to a cold school ground in March, and he was out for nought and 10. On the other side, Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman batted extremely well – both have tasted international cricket but have had time to improve as players and mature as people and would go back better for the experience.”
Ramprakash has experience both of being unfulfilled at Test level, averaging 27.32 from 52 Tests, frequently in and out of the England side, and of enjoying his best years later in his career, with a recall unforthcoming. From his last Test in 2002 until the end of 2010, Ramprakash scored 14,254 first-class runs at 75.82, with 57 centuries.