Middlesex: Mark Ramprakash settling into coaching role
Letting go after a 25-year playing career was always going to be difficult for Mark Ramprakash.
The 43-year-old retired from the game last July following a career which saw him score 114 first-class centuries for Middlesex and Surrey and play 52 Tests for England.
Ramprakash is now back at Middlesex, where he made his first-class debut as a 17-year-old in 1987 and spent 14 years as a player, as batting coach on a two-year deal.
And although he is enjoying giving advice to younger players, he still misses the thrill of playing himself.
"It has been very different," he told BBC London 94.9.
"I certainly miss the playing side and still wish I could still strap on the pads. I looked at the nets at Lord's before the start of the season. They were in great condition and I was itching to have a bat, but it is very different as a coach.
"It is early days but I am enjoying the opportunity to try and build some relationships with the players. I have found it very rewarding to try and help them."
Ramprakash scored more than 35,000 first-class runs at an average of 53.14, reaching the landmark of a hundred centuries in 2008.
Former Surrey and England captain Alec Stewart labelled him "the best domestic cricketer of the last 15 to 20 years", while former Middlesex seam bowler Simon Hughes expressed the view that his credentials "could make a supreme cricketer an even more supreme coach".
Ramprakash also provides coaching for the England and Wales Cricket Board, but his principal focus is on tailoring his work at Lord's to meet the individual needs of the Middlesex squad.
"The players have got a good work ethic and they are willing to learn. It is a case of slowly but surely working with the player to find out what works for them," he said.
"Hopefully with the things I have learned throughout my career in the game, I can impart some of that as and when it is needed.
"So far I have found it rewarding if a player takes something and finds that it helps.
"There are players like Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan, who are England regulars, but by and large there is a talented group here who are around their early to mid-20s.
"From my point of view, I want to see people like Joe Denly, Dawid Malan and Neil Dexter push on. They are coming to their peak years as batsmen and I am looking forward to working with them to help them achieve their potential."
Ramprakash spent the last 12 years of his playing career with rivals Surrey, but after calling time at the Oval midway through last season, he has found it easy settling back into life north of the Thames.
"I feel very comfortable in the environment," he said.
"A huge part of me coming back to Middlesex was the fact that Angus Fraser is [managing] director of cricket.
"I know Angus very well and I think since he has been in his role he has helped create a lot of stability around the club.
"Along with Richard Scott and Richard Johnson [head coach and assistant coach], I think Middlesex have a relaxed atmosphere, but we are well aware we want to keep raising the bar."
Middlesex finished third in the County Championship last season and, after two wins from their opening three games in 2013, Ramprakash believes the side are on the brink of a new era of success.
However, he warns that the squad will have to get their mental approach correct if they are to lift silverware.
"I am really interested to see how the players develop throughout the season," he said.
"It is an open Championship. The feeling I get around the Middlesex squad is that I would love them to take the next step mentally; to believe they are winners and they can go on and win the County Championship and other trophies.
"You have to believe. It is a way of thinking that you are in it to win it.
"That is a very important element that Middlesex are now ready to try and take hold of. It is not about staying in Division One.
"I think the time is right, in the next few years, for Middlesex to really say 'We have got a good, stable team. Let's try and kick on and win some silverware'."
Interview by BBC London 94.9's Jamie Reid.