Have been reading a couple of old Hick threads recently and thought this was a decent question.
Hick's international career has of course been the subject of much head-scratching, both at the time and in the years that have followed.
His ODI record, it should not be forgotten, was pretty good.
It was in the more intense arena of the five-day game that, aside from a period of strong performance from 1993-95, he was, at best, mightily inconsistent.
In that brief period he really was one of the best batsmen in the world and at least came very close to living up to the hype around his entry into the international game in 1991.
I think Hick was unlucky on five counts:-
1. Like Ramps, he got a baptism of fire against the West Indies in 1991. Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh and Patterson isn't your ideal choice of bowling attack when starting out. Hick bombed spectacularly in that series, to the extent that he was out of the side by the end of it. What he would have given for a Sri Lanka (with only Ratnayake to worry about) or New Zealand (with only Cairns and Morrison to worry about) instead of the fireball he was thrown into.
2. He spent seven years qualifying in the county game against vastly inferior attacks to what he would later face, Make no mistake, the gap between a decent county attack and a decent international one is huge. There just aren't the third-rate bowlers to pick off or the plethora of bad balls to put away. On a strictly personal level, Hick would have benefited from first playing for England in (say) the 1989 Ashes. That Australian attack, while good, was nothing like what he would face in '91 and the margin of that 4-0 victory owed more to shambolic organisation from England, players discussing rebel tours during the lunch break etc. Australia were better than England, but not 4-0 better if England had their house in order. Those seven years stifled his development in many ways.
3. Then fanfare around the test debut of a guy who was shy and a tad on the sensitive side to start with cannot have helped him. You have to protect people from situations that are dangerous and unhealthy for them and it's clear the England mangement did nothing to quell that and let the guy deal with what was already a stressful and nerve-racking experience.
4. England team culture at the time was one where players played for their own places and not the team. Such was the shotgun nature of team selection back then that you were permanently operating with the sword of damocles above your head. I have no doubt that Ramps' own nervy performances, completely contrary to his free-scoring domestic play, owed much to this. I feel sorry for both of them on this score and think both would have benefited from being told "you guys are the future and we back you for ten to fifteen games minimum unless it's an absolute disaster". Nobody can be an automatic pick but you have to invest in people sometimes. With Hick and Ramps, England never did this.
5. Hick was not 'actually' English, which seemed to count against him more than it ever did for the likes of Robin Smith or Andy Caddick. Absolutely no idea why this is and remains a bit of a mystery to this day. The bar always seemed to be that bit higher for Hick than it was for others and he was the one facing the axe the moment something went wrong.
Which feeds nicely into my question.
Did Hick know how close Zimbabwe were to getting test status? If so, then the possibility of being one of their star attractions alongside Houghton and Streak must have crossed his mind? Graeme Hick would have been an automatic pick for Zimbabwe and even his actual test average of 31 would have been more than enough to bank a place in the side, especially as they would almost certainly have used his under-rated bowling on a more frequent basis. As it is, I think he and Houghton would have formed the basis of their batting during the early years and Hick would no doubt have gone on to be a 100+ cap legend in his home country with an average much, much higher than 31.
Of course, Worcestershire would have a difficult call in terms of whether or not to employ Hick as an overseas player in that instance. Even if they hadn't, another county would have bitten his hand off.
So - I think Hick should have played internationally for Zimbabwe and not England. Thoughts appreciated...