Tag: Ravi Bopara (page 1 of 2)

Is Jonny Bairstow the next Ravi Bopara?

Ravi Bopara in an actual Test match

Regular readers will know we rather like Ravi Bopara. We don’t think he’s the next Bradman or owt, but we do think he’s probably England’s sixth best batsman.

People don’t like picking the sixth best batsman. They have it in their heads that there must be someone better out there to take the sixth batting slot. Maybe there is, but perhaps that person could make a better fist of highlighting their quality and make life easier for all of us.

27-years-old

Ravi’s at a good age for Test cricket now. He’s had his share of ups and downs and he knows a spangly Test career doesn’t come easily. That’s healthy. That’s the point at which Jonathan Trott arrived in Test cricket. That’s the point at which Matt Prior and Ian Bell started looking the part.

This is why we’re completely irritated that Ravi’s got himself injured. His winter was a complete pain in the arse, sitting and watching Eoin Morgan spazz around for a month before sitting and watching Samit Patel do little better. He was due a turn. He was due a few innings to make a case for himself. He’s only had two Test innings since the juvenile Ravi died in the 2009 Ashes and he was not out in the last of those.

But he’ll have to wait again

Jonny Bairstow’s been promoted to the Test team in Ravi’s place and we worry he too will slip into the no-man’s land just outside the Test side in years to come. He’s young enough that if he fails, he could find himself dragging ‘evidence’ of his shortcomings around for years to come, smiting county attacks all the while.

Hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully Bairstow will make 500 on his debut in an innings that will later be considered disappointing in light of his subsequent achievements. However, that would sentence Bopara to another spell of driftage and that would get on our nerves.


Ravi Bopara’s back

As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got anklosing spondylitis or anything.

“He’s late to meetings, or he wears the wrong clothing to a function, or forgets his passport.” – Essex coach, Paul Grayson.

Ravi Bopara – a man with qualities we can all get behind.


Are you happy with Ravi Bopara being in England’s World Cup squad?

How would you describe this expression? Vexed?

We are. We’d rather have Eoin Morgan, but if he’s got a knackered finger, we’ll settle for Bopara.

This is a somewhat unfashionable opinion at the minute and we’re pretty sure it’s because of that phenomenon where Ashes performances are almost wholly responsible for forming people’s opinions.

In 2009, Ravi Bopara had seven Ashes innings, batting at three, and scored ever-so-slightly more than ball-all. But this followed three hundreds in three innings against the West Indies. The West Indies attack isn’t what it was, but how many people score three Test hundreds on the bounce?

We’ve never done it. We can’t succeed at anything three times in a row. Come the third swig of beer, we’ll tip the glass prematurely or apply it to the wrong part of our face. Doing anything three times in a row is hard and scoring three Test hundreds in a row particularly so.

As for one-day cricket, Bopara scored a double hundred once which is pretty exceptional. It doesn’t mean he’ll do it in the World Cup final, but it does mean he’s far too good for county cricket, which is a pretty good qualification for international cricket.

He had four one-day matches for England in 2010 and generally appeared with about five overs to go. He managed to score 103 runs off 71 balls in total, which adds up to some handy late innings sloggery and also smacks of a man trying to make the most of the few chances he gets.

We also like Ravi Bopara because we can make jokes about his tiling ability.


Ravi Bopara, Essex: first-class batsman to watch in 2010

No-one calls him RavBop - yetThe plight of Ravi Bopara makes an interesting case study. He’s trying to establish himself as a Test cricketer and only Test runs will really persuade anyone that he’s ready.

He gets a series of ducks in Tests in Sri Lanka and gets dropped. He promptly makes a one-day double hundred. He has a bad run in the Ashes and gets dropped. He promptly makes a first-class double hundred in the second division.

Too good for one level of cricket, not yet ready for the next one up. Ravi Bopara is in limbo. At least now he’s batting in the first division. Is that more meaningful? We think it is and we’re intrigued to see how he gets on.

Maybe he can actually try and make his case by playing cricket rather than having to resort to public pronouncements about being keen, but not too keen.


Ravi Bopara is keen but not too keen

He’s confident without being arrogant; humble without being meek; aggressive without being irresponsible; watchful without being bogged down.

That’s what he’d say anyway. England’s cricketers know they have to say the right things and it’s painful to hear at times. They have to remain positive otherwise the media call them weak-minded and if they’re too positive, they’re branded complacent or cocky.

Bopara’s been talking about how he aims to get big scores that win matches for England:

“I am desperate to do that. Not over-desperate because that’s when things can go wrong, but I want to be the main man for England.”

What is the optimum level of desperation?


Ravi Bopara lowers himself from Test cricket to county cricket

There’s a big step up from county cricket to Test cricket, which means there’s a big step down when you get dropped. Ravi Bopara’s returned to Essex and has promptly made 201 against Surrey.

Essex play in the second division, so it’s no so much a step down as a jump. It’s a good job players are keen to cling onto their Test players by their fingertips as it means there isn’t as far to fall.

The Surrey bowling attack conquered by Ravi Bopara

  • Dernbach
  • Collins
  • Linley
  • Schofield
  • Meaker
  • Spriegel
  • Afzaal

If Bopara was quaking in his boots, it would only be from damage to his knees after falling so far.

If there were a third as many first-class teams, the bowling attacks would be three times as good and the gap wouldn’t be so great.


Ashes players to watch tomorrow

You might have noticed a certain jaded world-weariness about our recent Ashes coverage as a result of mindless media coverage smotheration. It feels right that we should return to our natural demeanour at a time when everyone else is bouncing about like there’s a lot of bouncing to be done in the strange belief that mindless bouncing ever solved anything.

We haven’t picked cricketers to watch because they’ll be eye-catching. We’ve had a think and these are three who we think will play a big part.

Michael Clarke gets a whiff of sweet, sweet helmetMichael Clarke

He’s not trendy and exciting any more, like Phil Hughes. He’s not got the monumental record of Ricky Ponting or the inflated average of Mike Hussey. But whereas the likes of Hussey and Katich rely on experience and sound decision-making for Test runs, Michael Clarke is more like Ponting. He has better hand-eye co-ordination than most, quick feet and plays all the shots.

However, unlike Ponting, he’s got a long way to go. We’ve probably seen Ponting’s best, but Clarke could get even better. He’s probably still on an upward curve.

Hussey, Katich and even Marcus North are other low-key batsmen to watch as well, because all three have years and years of cricket in England behind them.

Ravi Bopara being the 100 runs haverRavi Bopara

Never mind Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara seems as likely to score runs as any England batsmen right now. A lot of cricket people seem to think Bopara’s some kind of geezer, but he just seems like a nice bloke who plays cricket to us. He plays it very well and he’ll be immune to the Ashes pressures, which is absolutely vital in the quest for runs.

Whether he’s immune to the pressure because he’s confident or because he hasn’t really noticed quite what’s going on is a moot point – although we’d bet on it being both.

James Anderson haves some bowlerising cricketingJames Anderson

We’ve picked two batsmen above, but batsmen are really just obstacles to victory. Bowlers decide series. England’s best chance of dismissing a hugely strong and quite possibly long Australian batting line-up is through swing. Swing a cricket ball and you can get the very best players out.

It’s hard to think of another swing bowler who can work a great batsman over as comprehensively as James Anderson (Zaheer Khan, maybe). Old school inswing and outswing with the new ball and their reverse swing counterparts with the old one. All bowled with thought. All bowled with control.

If the ball doesn’t swing, he’s a bit blunted, but if it does, James Anderson is the man to dismiss cussed batsmen who are hard to beat and who rarely make mistakes.


Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook

Bopara and Cook - like chalk and a totally different piece of chalkRavi Bopara and Alastair Cook have batted together for Essex for ten years or so. They make an odd, but effective, couple.

Cook’s a gangling left-handed posho who’s lumpen at the crease and nervy in front of the camera. Bopara’s a podgy, right-handed bloke, who’s often aggressive at the crease and calm in front of the camera – quite possibly because he’s pretty much oblivious to what’s going on.

Both scored hundreds. Both are therefore ace.

If we had to choose between them, we’d go for Ravi and not just because he’s scored three hundreds in three Test innings, although that’s pretty persuasive.

We like the way he smiles and stares into space when he’s asked a question he can’t answer, totally unarsed by what should be an uncomfortable situation. He does the same thing at the crease when he edges a ball. In both situations, he just waits to see what happens next. It’s like he doesn’t even remember the previous minute.

We find it encouraging and even inspiring that ‘being unaware of what’s going on around you’ can be a strength.


Ravi Bopara celebrates

Do 'running against the wind' or 'trapped in glass box'It’s nice to have a batsman who celebrates his hundreds through the lost art of mime. In Barbados he did a funny bow and arrow thing upon reaching three figures. Yesterday, he outlined the Lord’s honours board and scribbled his name on it.

Ravi Bopara could have played flawlessly for his hundred, but we perhaps learnt more because he didn’t. Bopara isn’t bothered when a fielder drops him or a ball beats the bat. That’s someone else’s problem.

He batted well and he created an England scorecard where the number three batsman is the only person to get decent runs. We thought those went out of fashion the same time we did.


Ravi Bopara: England number three

We like it. Let’s put some mundane banalities into bullet point format to in no way support that.

Ravi Bopara

  • Proper batsman who bats at three for his county
  • One of the few batsmen in county cricket who you could consider to have been exceptional over the last few years
  • Young
  • Massively confident
  • Likely to get better

Michael Vaughan

  • Resilient and not intimidated by Test cricket
  • Going to get worse
  • Hasn’t actually scored a great many runs in a very long time

Owais Shah

  • Bit mental
  • Not done a right lot

Ian Bell

  • Bit flaky

Conclusion

In short, we have more faith in Ravi Bopara doing the job than his rivals.

He might look worse than Bell, but anyone who tells you that technique is the most important thing for a Test batsman doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Ask Virender ‘see ball, hit ball’ Sehwag or Graeme ‘clumpy’ Smith.

Vaughan’s temperament is perhaps his strength, but how Bopara will cope with Test cricket is still largely unknown. He might respond just as well. Bopara seems like the type who might respond to big situations. He thinks he’s better than everyone else and you don’t get far without thinking that.

We said Bopara shouldn’t be discarded when he was first dropped and that droppage might prove the making of him, as it did for Graham Gooch. Since droppage Bopara’s scored runs remorselessly. He’s scored them everywhere. He even scored a one-day double hundred, which is just mental.

However, arguably the greatest benefit for the nation is that while he’s at the crease he’ll be a long way from any tiling jobs that need doing.


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