Four More Weeks...

Four More Weeks...

Diary of a Stand-In Captain

By Mark Ramprakash with Justyn Barnes

Online shop price: £16.99

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ISBN: 1905326017

Format: Hardback

Pages: 288pp

Size: 234 x 153mm

Weight: 580grammes

Illustrations: 32pp full colour

Published: November 2005

Four More Weeks is Mark Ramprakash's gripping diary of Surrey's traumatic 2005 cricket season.

Handing over the captaincy of the team at the start of the season, injured Surrey skipper Mark Butcher tells Ramps he is "four more weeks" away from his comeback. It turns out to be five long months, during which Surrey's place amongst the elite of the game comes under threat.

Lifting the lid on the ball tampering saga that rocks the famous club and the simmering unrest that threatens to boil over in the dressing room during his stint at the helm, beyond that Four More Weeks is a candid, thoughtful and at times humorous insight into life as a county cricket captain.

From the dressing room characters like The Human Headband and The Himbo to the spats with umpires, opponents and team-mates and the long, long days in the field captaining a team in trouble, Four More Weeks takes you into the Surrey dressing room and inside the mind of one of cricket's most gifted and compelling players.

Quotes

A lavish, often controversial read about a season of crisis at Surrey, and the consequent growth of one of cricket's most honest and endearing characters.
The Sunday Times, January 2006

Strewn with tantrums and soul-searching... this is a sporting diary par excellence.
The Wisden Cricketer, January 2006

Pulls no punches... it is a thoughtful and at times humorous look at life as a county captain.
The Independent, December 2005

Vision Sports already has a reputation for publishing quality titles, and this should have appeal all round the country.
The Bookseller, January 2006

Reviews

THE SUNDAY TIMES

January 2006

Book of the week
THE 2005 season was one of the most tumultuous for Surrey cricket club, and for Mark Ramprakash in particular. The club's vice-captain was forced to take up the skipper's mantle after an early season injury sidelined Mark Butcher for what would regularly be termed 'four more weeks', hence the book's title. In the event, the damaged wrist would keep Butcher out for most of the season, leaving Ramprakash in charge of a side in transition, and one that would be relegated for the first time in the club's history. Now aged 36, the master batsman knows his cricket and has the T-shirts to prove it, playing in 52 Tests for England and scoring more than 26,000 runs in first-class cricket. By taking over from Butcher in 2005, he became the first player to captain Middlesex and Surrey.

He pulls no punches in his descriptions of Surrey's shortcomings and takes us behind the scenes in the dressing room. Throughout the five months this book addresses - May until September - he highlights the valiant, admirable performances by England's cricketers in the Ashes series as a contrast to the dismal showings of the men under his command. In a season of calamity he is sidelined for a month with a broken thumb and frequently has to tear into his under-performing team, on one occasion telling them: 'I don't think we are working hard enough at our game, our fitness is not good enough and the way we're looking after ourselves in terms of nutrition and recovery is not good enough either.'

Ramps even admits that the idea of a lie-detector test was floated after nobody owned up to a ball-tampering charge during the County Championship match with Nottinghamshire - an incident that led to Surrey being docked eight crucial points. On a wider scale, he concedes that he does not like Ian Botham, who often criticised him during his England career, and Aussie coach John Buchanan, who he considers failed when they worked together at Middlesex in 1998. Ramprakash also contends that his England career could have been more fruitful if he had enjoyed the 'security' today's Test heroes enjoy: 'Under Duncan Fletcher, there's a pecking order and once you earn your chance you are backed for a run of games.'

The only niggle about the book concerns its diary-style format, which means you get too much padding alongside the genuine reflections and analysis. Maybe a tough editor could have cut back on the flimsy filling and kept Ramps focused on the main job at hand: the cricket. But overall, this is a lavish, often controversial read about a season of crisis at Surrey - and the consequent growth of one of cricket's most honest and endearing characters.

Available at The Sunday Times Books First price of £15.29 inc p&p on 0870 165 8585

Frank Graham

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