England selectors have taken the unlikely step of considering the recall of veteran batsman Mark Ramprakash for the fifth Ashes Test against Australia, more than seven years after his last Test appearance.
|Ramprakash is playing well at county level but could he cut it at the Ashes? [GALLO/GETTY]
National selector Geoff Miller said the 39-year-old Surrey batsman is in contention for the series decider at The Oval after the team's middle order failed dismally in the fourth-Test loss that squared the series at 1-1.
And Ramprakash, who has been in top form the past four years and averages
more than 100 in the county championship again this season, says he wants to play if England loses patience with the underperforming Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell.
"Any player would accept that challenge and cherish and savour being
involved in that match,'' Ramprakash said.
"It's something you would remember for the rest of your career.''
Ramprakash, who made the last of his 52 Test appearances against New Zealand in April 2002, averages 42.40 in Ashes Tests.
His overall Test average is a mediocre 27.32 and he was dropped after compiling just 77 runs in five innings as England drew a three-Test series 1-1 against the Black Caps.
But Ramprakash says that his subsequent experiences - which include winning a hugely popular televised ballroom dancing contest and taking his England and Wales Cricket Board level four coaching qualification - have made him a far better player.
"I played my last Test at 32," Ramprakash told British broadcaster Sky Sports News from Surrey's Pro40 match against Glamorgan at The Oval.
"That was a difficult trip and I struggled a bit, but so did a lot of players.
"I still feel I've kept improving as a player and for me to be part of what I said is a fantastic occasion here, is a fantastic challenge."
"Mark has not stated he's not available for international cricket, so we will discuss that,'' Miller said in an interview with website Cricinfo.
"It's not just my decision, it's a team decision, and we'll sit down as a unit. We have
a consistency and continuity angle as far as selection policy is concerned and we try to stick to that as much as possible.
"But we do want to win this series, which is a matter of winning this game in a one-match situation, so it's a very difficult equation.''
With its middle order having contributed just 16 runs in the humiliating defeat at Headingley, England is contemplating changes to its line-up when the squad is announced on Sunday - four days before the match starts.
Star batsman Kevin Pietersen is injured and No. 3 Ravi Bopara averages just 15 in his seven series innings against Australia.
Ian Bell contributed just 8 and 3 on his return to the team in the fourth Test, which Australia won by an innings and 80 runs inside three days.
Bell and Bopara scored just one run each for their county sides on Wednesday.
| Ravi Bopara has had a poor run of form in the Ashes series [GALLO/GETTY]
Bell was caught behind while playing for Warwickshire against Nottinghamshire, while Essex batsman Bopara was caught off a ball from Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh - who also dismissed England opener Alastair Cook for 4 at Lord's.
But England will not ask Marcus Trescothick to come out of international retirement.
Miller said that the 33-year-old batsman would not be considered for the series decider despite leading the county championship scoring with 1,330 runs at an average of 78.23.
Trescothick stepped down from international cricket in March 2008 after a stress-related illness.
"Marcus has many times said he's retired from international cricket and, until I hear contrary to that, he will not be a part of the selection process,'' Miller said.
"He's really comfortable and playing really, really well, but he's retired from Test cricket so he's not a part of our thoughts at this moment in time.''