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2012: Vintage British tennis

14 Oct

After decades in the doldrums, British tennis has returned with a vengeance. And unlike previous purple patches, it’s a joint-effort on the part of both sexes. The success of Andy Murray (age 25), Heather Watson (20) and Laura Robson (18) bodes well for several years to come. That it took 76 years for the lad from Dunblane to emulate the last British male grand slam singles champion, and 24 years for the lass from Guernsey to emulate the last British female WTA tour title winner, is beyond comprehension. But finally the weight of history has been lifted and hopefully their success will usher in a potentially golden-age of British tennis in the Open/modern era. The three mentioned above have not been alone in their success. There was victory in one-half of the men’s doubles at Wimbledon and Liam Broady‘s path to the US Open final in the Junior competition, to go along with his success earlier in the year in the Junior doubles at the Australian Open. In a year of general British sporting success, it has been a treat to watch the tennis players coming to the party. Much will be expected of them next year, particularly Mr Murray!

Adios Mark Ramprakash!

6 Jul


A fan shaking hands with Mark Ramprakash on the day he went on to score his 98th first-class century against Lancashire. [Taken 16 Apr 2008]

He’s one of the few English cricketers I remember dad telling me about as a boy. As a Briton with Asian heritage he always intrigued me, not least for the fact that both parts of his surname feature in my own. But despite a glittering twenty-five year career, Mark Ramprakash was unable to fulfil his prodigious talent on the sport’s biggest stage, Test cricket. His average of 27.32 in 52 Tests (with just two hundreds) pales in comparison with his first-class record of 35,659 runs at an average of 53.14 (with 114 first-class hundreds), along with 13,273 runs in one-day cricket. It is a distinct possibility that he will remain the last cricketer to ever score a hundred first-class centuries, a landmark he reached during the 2008 County Championship. I was fortunate enough to watch him in action earlier that season when he notched his 98th first-class century at The Oval in a rain-affected match against Lancashire. He was always one of the more stylish English batsman of his generation and many will rue the fact that he will perhaps be remembered not so much for his run-accumulation, but for his success in a reality dance competition in 2006. Thanks Ramps for the entertainment and I wish him all the best in the future. Along with Graeme Hick’s retirement four years ago, this truly is the end of English cricket’s 1980s era.

LINK:
England’s flawed technician (David Lloyd, Cricinfo)
A champion of elegance in helmet and pads (Jim White, The Telegraph)