We sometimes experience this phenomenon where the girl driving the car behind seems to be the most beautiful woman in the world. This is true when we catch a glimpse of her for a fraction of a second, from a distance, while we’re both moving, but then she pulls up behind us at the lights and the illusion is over.
Given just a glimpse of something, the brain can be very generous when filling in the gaps. Perhaps fuelled by the optimism borne of strong performances by the national side, a lot of English people seem to be assessing young England players far too generously. That’s very kind of them, but it does no favours to the players we know rather better.
Ravi Bopara has three Test hundreds, 20 first-class hundreds, a one-day double hundred and a Twenty20 hundred to his name and he is only 26. Here are the men who are apparently going to leave him for dead because they’ve ‘grown up with Twenty20’ and are ‘full of confidence’.
Averaged 46 in a losing Yorkshire side this year and played a frankly jaw-dropping debut one-day innings for England against India. He’s looked amazing for all of 21 balls in international cricket, so why not make him captain? Has the nation accepted a job lot of jump to conclusions mats or something? Chill out. Gather more than four overs’ worth of evidence. Maybe he has a massive weakness against bowlers who are quicker than RP Singh.
Always scores runs when he’s on telly and averages 71 in one-day cricket, largely because he’s only had 24 innings (12 of them not out). Looks great so far – which isn’t very far at all.
Put him up against a West Indies second eleven that’s been in autumnal England for about three quarters of an hour and he’ll have them for breakfast.
According to some, Taylor leapfrogged Ravi Bopara after outscoring him in the England Lions match against Sri Lanka. Those matches aren’t shoot-outs. They’re information gathering exercises. Those two fifties will be added to the one hundred that Taylor managed to score in the second division of the County Championship this season. He’s certainly a good batsman, but we don’t yet know how he’ll fare against teams who have more than two half-decent bowlers.
And back to Bopara
Much as we’d all like life to be constant progress with never a setback, it isn’t like that. It’s more like a near constant series of setbacks with occasional windows of stability. Ravi Bopara has had a couple of career catastrophes and has come back from them well. He has important qualities that we may not find in the players above.
A lot of the English currently seem willing to sacrifice something very good, but which isn’t perfect, in favour of whatever’s inside that cardboard box with a question mark on it that just got delivered.