Mark Ramprakash, the England batting coach, says he can relate to Nick Compton’s uncertainty about his Test place and will urge the player to put the occasion to one side this week in what may be a make-or-break five days at Lord’s.
Compton goes into Thursday’s third Test with Sri Lanka with his spot at No3 still to be locked down, having started brightly during his comeback series in South Africa over the winter only for a top score of 44 from nine innings for Middlesex and England this summer to raise questions about his long-term viability in the side.
Ramprakash, one of the great unfulfilled talents of the English game, who dominated the county scene for Middlesex and Surrey but produced only two of his 114 first-class hundreds in Tests, has worked tirelessly with Compton in the nets this summer and retains the belief that the 32-year-old will deliver. “All coaches are shaped by their own experiences and I certainly am,” he said. “I want to be there as someone who can support and encourage the player. I can certainly relate to Nick feeling on edge, with the increased scrutiny about his position. I do feel I can help provide support for that.
“I have found him committed, dedicated, focused. He has not had the start to the season he’d have wanted, but his strengths are that he can bat long periods of time, soak up pressure and he’s got a good technique.
“In my mind, I look at him and see a top player who is very capable of getting thousands more international runs. But he needs to go out there and allow himself to play the game of cricket in front of him, not the occasion.”
This approach will be tested in a four-day sellout at his home ground – a venue that has a stand named after his grandfather, Denis Compton – even if the series was wrapped up with the nine-wicket victory at Chester-le-Street last week, where he struck the winning runs.
While securing a further four points in the tour’s overall Super Series may be the on-message incentive for England – victory would put them 12-0 up with 12 points to play for in the limited-overs matches – Ramprakash sees the prime motivation at Lord’s being one of personal pride for a group of players who, in the past 12 months, have lost dead rubber Tests to Australia and South Africa.
“The players are very much aware of it. I’m sure it will be reiterated over the next couple of days,” said Ramprakash. “A Test match at Lord’s is the pinnacle of your career, or certainly one of the highlights. So all the players have plenty to play for individually and that will help collectively as a team. I hope lessons will have been learned because we have come unstuck in the last Test, most recently in South Africa. That wasn’t a good feeling, so we hope the guys will want to finish the job off this week.”
Sri Lanka’s build-up has been affected by the reporting of their seam-bowler Shaminda Eranga for a suspect bowling action, with the right-armer now awaiting results of testing at the ICC-accredited facility in Loughborough.
Should no verdict be issued before Thursday, Eranga would be free to play at Lord’s, with the tourists also considering including the wicketkeeper Kusal Perera, a late call-up for the series after a drug ban was overturned, despite having had no match-action for six months.
England are likely to be unchanged, but welcomed back Ben Stokes for continued rehabilitation following knee surgery during a rain-affected training session on Tuesday that included two young supporters being given the chance to meet the team.
The assistant coach, Paul Farbrace, invited 10-year-old Harvey Parry, who lost his legs to meningitis, to join the session after reading about his story in the Sun newspaper last month while Ben Floto, who has leukaemia and is also 10, attended with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010