London, Dec. 24: Mark Ramprakash, 37, the Surrey and former England batsman, last night won BBC television’s coveted Strictly Come Dancing competition, the second cricketer to do so, following pace bowler Darren Gough’s unexpected triumph last year.
Ramprakash, partly of Indian origin (his father is an Indian from Guyana and his mother is English), and his partner, Karen Hardy, a professional dancer, represented the democratic choice of 12 million viewers, many of whom cannot be bothered to turn out for local or even general elections.
In the end, the voting public clearly forgave Ramprakash, who was revealed by the News of the World to have been cheating on his wife, Vandana, 36, by having a six-year-long affair with Sadia Saleem, a single mother.
Ramprakash’s lawyer N. Desai confirmed the affair but claimed it was “brief”. Desai said: “Mrs Ramprakash has known about the brief affair…. Her primary concern at the moment is the well being of her young children. Mark bitterly regrets the hurt he has caused his wife and family and apologises sincerely.”
But the News of the World quoted Saleem as telling a “friend”: “When it started I didn’t know Mark was married with children or I would have never got involved. But by the time he had told me I had fallen in love with him. We tried to stop things but there was so much chemistry between us.”
No longer, it seems.
Vandana, who was in the audience with one of her two daughters, probably made her husband feel terrible by putting the knife in as only an Indian wife can. She said: “It doesn’t matter what he does, I’m always proud of him.”
Afterwards, she and her daughter hugged Ramprakash and Hardy, who wept with joy.
In the final, which came 12 eventful weeks after the competition began with 14 couples — each couple consisted of a celebrity and a professional dancer — Ramprakash and Hardy, who opted for the Tango and the Salsa, beat Matt Dawson, 34, a former rugby international, and his partner, Lilia Kopylova, who danced the Waltz and the Samba.
Dawson said: “There was no question, there was one winner here.”
But the real question was: what on earth was Ramprakash, considered to be “the most technically gifted batsman of his generation”, doing dancing when, according to many, he should be batting for England in the now lost Ashes series in Australia'