The prolifically prolific Mark Ramprakash talks Sam Stow through the key notes from a 25-year cricketing symphony.
THE LUCKY BREAK
0 | Under 11 trial with Middlesex, 1980
I made a third-ball nought. The openers had put on a hundred partnership, then I went out and played all round a big away-swinger and was hit on the leg. My world fell apart – it was a big deal, my family had come to watch, it was a beautiful day. I also bowled two overs for 20 but I was still selected in the squad. I don’t know how; maybe I walked to the wicket well! It was a massive moment in my life, because if I hadn’t been selected then I wouldn’t have been pushed forward for extra coaching during the winter.
THE FIRST-CLASS INNINGS
152 | Leicestershire under 25s v Middlesex under 25s, Warwick Under 25 Competition, Leicester, 1987
I’d just signed for Middlesex and come back from an under 19 tour to Sri Lanka. It was a 40-over game and I opened the batting. It was early in my career and I just played instinctively and scored 152 off 90 balls. Leicestershire had Phil DeFreitas, Chris Lewis and Peter Such, so there was plenty of quality in their attack. That knock gave me the belief that I could make runs against first-class bowlers.
THE ONE-DAY WONDER KID
56 | Middlesex v Worcestershire, NatWest Trophy Final, Lord’s, 1988
That was one of my best innings, full stop. I didn’t think I’d be playing because I hadn’t played any of the previous rounds, and Gatt [Mike Gatting] only told me half an hour before the start. I was in shock, but I didn’t have much time to get nervous and fielding first allowed me to settle in. That knock [coming in at No.6 with Middlesex reeling on 25-4 chasing 162] was important because it thrust me into the spotlight.
THE FIRST OF MANY
128 | Yorkshire v Middlesex, County Championship, Headingley, 1989
Another hurdle crossed. This was my maiden first-class ton. I’d scored a number of fifties, but it is important for a young player to reach three figures for the first time. It was hanging over me a bit. The fact that we won the game made it even better. Geoff Boycott was watching the game. I’d got out padding up to left-arm spinner Phil Carrick and he said: “Well done young man, but why did you give it away?” Typical Boycott!
THE BAT OUT OF HEAVEN
205 | Middlesex v Sussex, County Championship, Lord’s, 1995
I started the season quite well, then I got a pair at Lord’s against West Indies and I was a bit hacked off. I’d bought this bat from Dominic Cork for £50 and decided to give it a go against Sussex. I thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose’, so I took it out of the wrapper and went on an incredible run. I ended up with about 2,000 runs that year, and about 1,850 from that bat! The runs were some consolation for what happened with England that summer.
THE PERFECT PREPARATION
“A good score” | Middlesex 2nd XI v RAF, one-day friendly, Uxbridge, 1996
I hadn’t got any runs in the first three games of the season and I heard the coach talking about a match against the RAF. It was the day before a Championship game, so we decided I should play. By then I’d played a number of Tests, but I took the view that time at the wicket would be useful. I blocked the shit out of it at first, but then some easier bowling came on. I went on to get a good score, and the next day I got a hundred. That experience showed me that, whatever the level, runs are runs.
THE LITTLE GEM
48 | England v Australia, Sixth Test, The Oval, 1997
I got called up for the last match of the summer and the pitch turned square. I didn’t get any runs in the first innings  but in the second innings the game was in the balance and I got 48, with Warne and McGrath bowling well. I remember Alec Stewart taking me out the night before and he was very encouraging and said some nice words that helped to focus me for the next day. We set them 124 to win and Tufnell and Caddick knocked them over for about 100 . It was a really nice match to be involved in, and it got me on the West Indies trip the following year.
THE BAJAN RUNS
154 | West Indies v England, Fifth Test, Barbados, 1998
Going into the tour I was told I wouldn’t be playing in any of the warm-up games, so it was fairly obvious that I wouldn’t be playing in the first Test in Jamaica. As it turned out it wasn’t a bad match to miss [it was abandoned after just 56 minutes because the pitch was too dangerous], and I eventually got a go in Guyana in the fourth Test. I got 60-odd there [64* and 34], which made me feel very relaxed and helped me get the big one in Barbados. That set me off on a decent run of form and I topped the averages in Australia the following winter.
THE FRESH START
146 | Surrey v Kent, County Championship, The Oval, 2001
It was my first game for Surrey. There had been a bit of controversy when I left Middlesex. I wanted to fit in. A number of people had actually said I wouldn’t make it into the Surrey team, it was that strong. Mark Butcher was out first over [after Kent had made 456] and so I was in very quickly. That knock allowed me to settle in very quickly at Surrey.
THE HUNDRETH HUNDRED
112* | Yorkshire v Surrey, County Championship, Headingley, 2008
I was averaging a hundred every seven knocks or so, so once it got to 10 knocks Sky Sports were turning up at every game asking me: “Do you think it’ll be today?” There are only so many times you can answer a question like that! When it eventually happened there was a nice symmetry about it as I’d scored my first hundred at the same ground, but there was no glory about it – there was a Test match on at the time and we were batting out a draw, so it was pretty low key. Having said that I was captain, Goughie [Darren Gough] was captain of Yorkshire and my parents came to watch, which was nice. In terms of emotion, I’m in no way complacent about the achievement; I’m chuffed to bits and incredibly grateful to have had a long career but I know that only two of those hundreds are Test hundreds. When you look at the other players on that list, they’re all great international players, so my emotions relating to this achievement are qualified.