Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Don't rubbish Ravi

England are one nil up with three to play. Everything seems to be rosy in the home team camp. Not quite true. Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen are nursing injuries, but the major problem seems to be Ravi Bopara.

It doesn’t take much for the number three spot to be under the spotlight and there are already calls for Bopara to be replaced. Many have decided that he lacks the technique and temperament to flourish at first drop. Please stop listening to Shane Warne.

Just as Warne’s withering assessment of Monty Panesar undermined our most talented spinner of recent years, the Aussie legend has delivered his damning verdict on Bopara, seemingly based on a clash between the pair in county cricket.

The poker-playing commentator might be trying one of his mind games on England for old time’s sake. The likely beneficiary of Bopara being dropped is Ian Bell – Warne’s ‘Sherminator’ bunny – who the Aussie legend would presumably love to see back at number three.

Bell hasn’t scored a single century at number three in 16 Tests, averaging 31. Owais Shah averaged 28.33 from the six matches he was given to cement the role. If Shah was jettisoned unfairly, Bopara’s axing would be even harsher.

True, he is yet to convince in the position in this series, but he has received one bad umpiring decision and a couple of excellent deliveries. His centuries against West Indies do not hold too much credence but should not be forgotten.

Bell was given two full Ashes series at numbers three and four but managed a top score of 87. He faced a far more testing attack than the one Bopara has to deal with, but also struggled to impose himself in the top order against lesser opposition.

Bopara’s tortuous effort on day three of the Lord’s Test, exacerbated by Pietersen’s similar efforts to rediscover form at the other end, suggested a player in turmoil.

He was in fact just facing the best spell of Aussie bowling in the series so far and his frustration at getting out softly to Nathan Hauritz revealed his disappointment at not getting through a sticky spell. He will come through in this series, hopefully at Edgbaston.

For now, keep a close eye on the Third Test odds before placing your Edgsbaston Test bet and, if you want to get in the mood for rivalry, check out Betfair's fanvfan site.


Anonymous said...

Now he is there, we may as well give Bopara a decent run. However, I would question his initial selection.

A mid 40s average in Division 2 of the championship probably equates to high 20s or low 30s in Division 1, so there are many better players who were overlooked.

A lot goes down to the Essex mafia. We blew our chances in the WT20 before a ball was bowled because they wanted Foster and Napier in the squad ahead of far greater talents, and Bopara's test selection smacks of the same thing happening here.

Anonymous said...

"far greater talents" - WHO?

IMO Bopara will be a significant test player, although probably not at 3.
I personally would like to see Moore at Worcs brought in to open (left/right partnership will not help Johnsons radar) with Cook at 3 and Ravi at 4.
I am a big Bell fan, but I fear bringing him back with the potential of an Ashes failure could finish him.

Anonymous said...

"far greater talents" - WHO?

Foster - Prior, Pothas and Jones all had far stronger cases. Read too, imo. Anyone who follows the county game knew that Foster's batting was never going to be good enough and it cost us so many runs at the death.

Napier - Almost anyone who can bowl a bit of seam up and bat a bit. Napier won't even be a sidenote when we are looking for a replacement for Flintoff.

IMO Bopara will be a significant test player, although probably not at 3.
I personally would like to see Moore at Worcs brought in to open (left/right partnership will not help Johnsons radar) with Cook at 3 and Ravi at 4.

The Aussies would be cock-a-whoop with that batting order. They will consider that they only need to remove Strauss or Cook to have us three down.

Moore has been in dreadful form, not even averaging 30 in the championship this year. Do you seriously think we should move someone who has just been party to a huge opening stand and averages over 40 as a test opener to accommodate him?

Perhaps you think we should also give Hopkinson a go. He has had a couple of decent knocks recently too, including a ton in a friendly v the Aussies.

Anonymous said...

Foster is the best keeper. I would not advocate him in longer forms of the game because of his batting - but 20:20 games are not won by your number 8.
I happen to agree, mainly, with your assessment of Napier - I do note, however, that you don't mention any alternatives.
Agreed that Moore has been in poor form, although he seems to have turned that around with a ton against the Aussies and another decent score since then.
You seem to be happy to poke holes, and there are many, in my ideas but come up with none yourself.

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