Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash described his MBE as more significant than his 100 first-class centuries after receiving the award in the New Year Honours.
Ramprakash called time on his 25-year career at the age of 42 in July with a host of records to his name.
None were more indicative of his vast talent than joining a select band of players, including legendary names such as WG Grace, Sir Donald Bradman and Geoff Boycott, to have scored 100 centuries in the first-class ranks.
In total Ramprakash passed three figures on 114 occasions, leaving him level with West Indies great Viv Richards, and left the game with a remarkable 35,659 first-class runs at an average of 53.14.
While he struggled to replicate those numbers in 52 Tests for England, marking him as one of the most unfulfilled talents of a generation, he stood out as the best batsman in the county game long after his final Test in 2002.
Ramprakash was named the 2007 Wisden Cricketer of the Year after becoming the first man ever to average more than 100 in consecutive county seasons with Surrey, while there was a clamour for his return to the England fold for the 2009 Ashes as his career continued to blossom beyond the retirements of his contemporaries.
“I think this MBE eclipses all that I have achieved in the game,” he said.
“It came straight out of the blue. I think for most players representing your country is the biggest moment in your life.
“When you experience winning Test matches, there is little other feeling that comes close to that.
“I have been lucky to play for so long and achieve things throughout my career like the 100 first-class centuries. But this is an acknowledgment of your entire career.
“I have been committed to cricket for 25 years. That is a very long time but I enjoyed every minute of it.
“To have that acknowledgment from someone outside of what you did is an immensely proud moment.”
In addition to Ramprakash’s award, former England cricket captain and Kent president Mike Denness was given an OBE for services to sport, 37 and a half years after his last Test match.
Robert Croft, who also retired during the summer, was awarded an MBE following his 23-year career with England and Glamorgan.
Denness, the only Scotsman to captain England, played 28 Test matches, scoring four centuries, and led his country on 19 occasions.
The 72-year-old, who later became an International Cricket Council match referee, was named president of the county for which he played for 14 years last December.
ECB chief executive David Collier paid tribute to the trio, saying: “The award to Mike Denness is fitting recognition for a long and distinguished career in cricket which has seen him fulfil a variety of key roles; captain of England, ICC match referee, ECB pitch inspector and more recently president of Kent – the county he led so successfully as a player during the 1970s.
“Mark Ramprakash was among the most supremely gifted batsmen of his generation and can be justifiably proud of being one of an elite band of cricketers who have scored 100 first-class hundreds. He has been a marvellous servant to Middlesex and Surrey as well as England, a past president of the Young Lord’s Taverners and continues to play an important role in the county game as a batting coach.
“Very few cricketers achieve the feat of scoring more than 10,000 first-class runs and taking more than 1,000 first-class wickets as Robert Croft did for Glamorgan during a 23-year career which also saw him win international honours with England. His honour is richly deserved and I am sure it will be warmly welcomed by everyone associated with the county as well as his many friends and colleagues in the first-class game.”
Croft became the only player in Glamorgan’s history to complete the 10,000-run and 1,000-wicket double in first-class cricket.
The 42-year-old also appeared in 21 Test matches and 50 one-day internationals with England.
Croft said: “It is a great honour and a privilege to receive an MBE.
“It’s fantastic to receive recognition of years of hard work, and especially in a team sport it’s good when an individual receives an accolade.
“It’s not something that you set out to get, but it is wonderful when it comes along. I don’t think it has sunk in properly. I’m still just a Carmarthenshire boy who did quite well in cricket.
“I count myself lucky that I was able to play for as long as I did and I’m grateful for the support I have received over the years from team mates, coaches and everyone at Glamorgan Cricket.
“However I don’t think I could have achieved what I did without such supportive family and friends.
“Collecting the honour is something to look forward too, but I’ll be quite nervous when I’m going up there. It’s just a privilege to be asked to receive this honour.”