Prakash happy to go head-to-head once again

The Guardian - Sport - - Cricket Ashes Countdown -

30s. At first-class level both had av­er­ages deep in the 50s, and made a very neat 250 cen­turies be­tween them (Hick 136 to Ram­prakash’s 114), amid 76,771 runs and look very likely to be the last two bats­men to regis­ter 100 first-class hun­dreds.

And so to Townsville, where the tan­gle con­tin­ues. Ram­prakash is Eng­land’s bat­ting coach, who as a fit 48-year-old is a tire­less ex­po­nent of the dog-thrower, is avail­able for a net at all hours and would prob­a­bly still rather be hit­ting than throw­ing. Hick, ev­ery bit as fit, is the en­emy. He is coach­ing Eng­land’s fi­nal op­po­nents be­fore the first Ashes Test, a Cricket Aus­tralia XI, and is Aus­tralia’s bat­ting coach hav­ing lived in the coun­try for six years.

Hick ap­peared for me­dia du­ties in the rain yes­ter­day. There were some gen­tle ques­tions about his promis­ing young charges, then a trip down mem­ory lane.

“Oh, we don’t have to go back on all that do we?” Hick said with a smile when asked about his and Ram­prakash’s ca­reers. “I thought we’d gone past that. We’ve got an Ashes se­ries to look for­ward to …”

Hick does not seem to carry any great re­grets. There are things he wishes he

Graeme Hick

65 (91-01) 31.32 10 35.21

Mark Ram­prakash

52 (91-02) 27.32 12 42.40 knew then – “I wouldn’t have lis­tened to the me­dia as much as I did” – and as­pects of the top level, such as the level of anal­y­sis, that he ex­plains with em­pa­thy to young play­ers, like Matt Ren­shaw, who looks likely to lose his opener’s spot af­ter scor­ing 69 runs in six in­nings this Aus­tralian sum­mer. Test dis­ap­point­ment surely made both men bet­ter coaches.

“For­tu­nately, yes,” said Hick when asked if his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer feels a dis­tant mem­ory. “I can sleep at night these days. I’ve never been one to re­flect and look back and feel sorry for my­self. I had great op­por­tu­ni­ties and loved what I did. I re­flect on it now in terms of some of the things I did and de­ci­sions I made to try to help peo­ple in what they go through.

“Quite of­ten dur­ing those mo­ments I think: ‘Yes, that’s what I went through and this is what helped me.’ It doesn’t mean it nec­es­sar­ily helps some­one else but it’s one of the chal­lenges I’ve en­joyed in coach­ing.”

Does he ever pause to won­der if his and Ram­prakash’s ca­reers would have panned out dif­fer­ently with the sta­bil­ity af­forded to mod­ern play­ers? “I don’t know,” he says. “Cen­tral con­tracts came in as I was go­ing out and there’s so much cricket now it’s great to have them to con­trol it. I’m not some­one who looks back and says, ‘If only.’ Why would I have re­grets? It’s for me to deal with and I’ve dealt with that my­self. I know I tried hard and worked hard but I don’t dwell on it. I count my­self as very for­tu­nate.”

Hick and Ram­prakash are as dif­fer­ent as their ca­reers are sim­i­lar, but Hick says he is look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up over their “com­mon ground”: the pro­duc­tion of runs and, now, run-mak­ers.

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