Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell?
We’re saying Ravi Bopara. If you’re going to drop someone, you have to do it properly. Ian Bell has been dropped like a hot pan full of cymbals that’s been grasped with bare hands.
Bopara might be crap at tiling and even worse at promoting Nuts magazine, but he’s one of the few batsmen who’ve been excelling in county cricket. Admittedly, his first-class runs were scored in the second division – and we decided this year that the second division doesn’t count – but he played some major innings in significant one-day matches as well and he’s always seemed a class above most other batsmen.
He’s someone who got dropped from the England team and promptly went and scored runs. How many runs? ‘Many’. Ian Bell would do well to take note and try and score ‘many’ runs himself.
If Bopara does get recalled, it should be made clear that he’s being reinstated for his superb batting and not for his occasional bowling, which is toss. Okay, it’s not toss, but ‘functional and unthreatening’ is hardly much better. It’s a disservice to his batting to call him an all-rounder in our opinion.
If you’re tired of updates about an indifferent Ravi Bopara helping to promote Nuts magazine via a National Shed Week PR stunt, then you might want to stop reading now.
Because here’s Ravi standing outside a shed with his drill and his barbecue and also his rake:
We’re hungry by proxy after looking at that.
Now here’s Ravi hard at work, pointing a drill in no particular direction while sitting outside his shed on an office chair.
It’s what we all do outside our sheds: wave drills about while sitting on office chairs.
Except us that is, because our shed is made of asbestos and therefore UTTERLY LETHAL.
Thanks a bunch Ravi. Thanks for trying to kill us. We’d say stick to the tiling, but you were crap at that as well.
Here’s Ravi Bopara trying to do some tiling.
Ravi! Stop! Everyone knows that you’re supposed to apply the adhesive to the wall and not to the tile.
Now here’s Charlotte Edwards putting up the exact same tile.
Q: How many cricketers does it take to put up one tile?
A: Two, but don’t count on it being flush with adjacent tiles because they’ll apply the adhesive to the tile and not the wall.
Test duck-scoring shortarse with a point to prove, Ravi Bopara, proved his point weeks ago. Ravi’s now had his point embossed on his batting glove and his systematically punching everyone in the face with it. If you don’t know that Ravi Bopara is serious about playing for England, you’ll see it indented in your forehead next time you look in the mirror.
This season’s first-class average of 85.66 is better than okay. His Friends Provident Trophy average of 91 is mighty. Hitting a one-day double hundred – 201 not out to be precise – is just supreme.
One-day double hundreds are rare things indeed. No-one’s ever managed one in one-day internationals and this was only the eighth in senior limited overs history. The most recent was by Mohammad Ali for Customs v Defence in Pakistan. Not THE Mohammad Ali, we’d guess – a different one who’s hit 207 of his 752 one-day runs in one innings.
The highest one-day score of all time was Alistair Brown’s barely-believable 268 off 160 balls for Surrey against Glamorgan. Even more amazingly, that wasn’t Ali Brown’s only one-day double hundred. Nobody else has ever scored a second.
To return to Ravi Bopara, we previously said that his failures in Sri Lanka might have brought a technical flaw to his attention. Apparently it did. We also said that that might prove invaluable. Bopara says he’s worked on a few things and has eliminated one of his ways of getting out.
That word again: ‘eliminated’. Strong words. Strong words backed up by increasingly strong performances.
Ravi Bopara’s Test tour of Sri Lanka was complete toss, with innings of eight and 34 on his debut preceding a grim duck sandwich, with two golden ducks as the bread and an altogether meatier seven ball duck as filling.
On that evidence, some people think they’ve seen the back of Ravi Bopara and they’re glad. He doesn’t help his cause by bowling a bit of medium-pace. This is an incredibly bad idea if you’re a batsman, as you inevitably get tarred with the ‘bits and pieces’ brush. Yes, there is such a brush. We’ve seen it. It’s huge.
Ravi Bopara’s played three innings so far this season. He’s hit 150, 99 (off 87 balls) and 136 not out (next highest score – 27). He averaged 62 last season. This is a serious batsman.
So at 22, it would be foolish to discard Bopara. It would be wasteful too. You should never give up on players after a bad series. Sometimes it’s the making of them. It might have brought a technical flaw to his attention or taught him to approach things differently. Either way, it could prove invaluable.
There’s no better example than the man who’s coached Bopara since he was 15, Graham Gooch.
Gooch said that his struggles against Terry Alderman’s swing in 1989 were the making of him because it taught him to play straighter.
Gooch’s Test record up to and including that series was 73 matches, 4,724 runs, eight hundreds and an average of 36.90. His record after that series was 45 matches, 4,176 runs, 12 hundreds and an average of 51.55.
The best players learn from bad experiences.
Apparently Ravi Bopara is ‘quicker than he looks’. This is a moronic statement that’s often made about a bowler.
‘He skids onto you a bit’ is another. Very rarely does anyone actually mean that the ball is delivered at such a low angle that the ball skids rather than bounces. Mostly people just mean ‘he’s quicker than he looks’.
No-one’s quicker than they look. Everyone’s exactly as quick as they look.
‘He bowls a heavy ball’ is our favourite. This can either mean ‘he’s quicker than he looks’ or it can mean that even though the bowl clearly travels at 70mph, at the exact second it strikes the bat, it accelerates to 80mph and just ‘feels heavier’.
What were you doing when you were 21 or 22? We were mostly not leaving our room for weeks on end and feeling kind of numb inside. Not Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara. They were exhibiting extraordinary amounts of steel in rescuing a disastrous one-day international run chase in front of thousands and thousands of people.
We’re not sure the scale of their achievement was properly expressed in the highlights. India had been dispatched for just 212. England had just lost the only batsman who’d seemed remotely competent – Paul Collingwood – and had fallen to 114-7. It was only the 24th over. Wickets had been tumbling.
Again and again we’d hoped someone would stick around and again and again batsmen hadn’t. Paul Collingwood had looked likely and now he’d gone. The English supporters in the crowd had given up and were occupying themselves by starting Mexican waves and shouting at the stewards. This was the context of the match.
The crowd were to entertain themselves for quite a bit longer, but we were watching. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara went about their business and about an hour later they’d started to win the crowd back over. They faced and conquered every Indian bowler with excellent shots, sensible thinking and some great cheeky-bastard singles.
Slowly, one by one, people said to each other: ‘Listen. Put down the beer snake. Something’s happening here.’
THAT’S the scale of the achievement. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara batted so well and rescued what had seemed such a lost cause that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.
That’s some performance.
England v India, fourth one-day international at Old Trafford
India 212 (Yuvraj Singh 71, Sachin Tendulkar 55, Stuart Broad 4-51, James Anderson 3-38)
England 213-7 (Stuart Broad 45 not out, Ravi Bopara 43 not out, Ajit Agarkar 4-60)