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July 23, 2012

England cricket

Ravi and the Dragon

Jarrod Kimber
Ravi Bopara drags a short delivery into his stumps, England v South Africa, 1st Test, The Oval, 5th Day, July, 23, 2012
Ravi Bopara drags on against Dale Steyn  © Getty Images
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It sounds like a weird fairytale, but Ravi Bopara may have just been slain by the dragon. Not an actual giant lizard thing with wings, but the term some cricketers use for a drag on (see what they did there?).

It was a perfect ball to drag on. Short enough to encourage a back-foot shot, slow enough for the batsman to go a bit early, wide enough to be played with an angled bat, and Bopara played his part to perfection. It was as if Terry Gilliam had meticulously directed it.

If it wasn't Ravi Bopara, I wouldn't be writing this.

The good Ravi has a swagger, hits the ball beautifully, looks like he's indestructible, has a cheeky grin and is so confident he scripts his hundred celebrations. The man has slammed a double century in a List A game and averaged over 90 in the last ODI series against Australia. Ravi has the tools to be a Test match batsman.

The bad Ravi has little more than a sad face.

In the Ashes of 2009, Shane Warne got in his head before the series and it appeared that Bopara just could not get Warne's voice out. Gone was the swagger, confidence and batsmanship, in its place was a confused man who looked he was about to cry at any moment. I've never felt more like running out on the field and hugging a player.

England played perhaps the most evil role in this; they kept Ravi in the side. While Warne the pundit demolished him mentally and Ben Hilfenhaus dealt with him physically, England forced him to play four Tests. They would state that this wasn't torture, but it looked like cricket's version of water boarding to me.

It wasn't even Ravi's worst series. Sri Lanka on his debut was a massacre, three ducks in five innings, a best of 34, and yet he fought back to score three hundreds in three Tests against West Indies shortly after. That was before his shocking Ashes in '09.

In the first innings against South Africa at The Oval, Ravi was horrible. From the moment he stepped out on the ground he looked like he wouldn't last long. The South Africans sensed this and howled at him like angry dogs. They were right to do so. His faux pull shot was dreadful in every single way. Hopefully no analyst or assistant coach made him watch it again.

Then in the second, he looked fine. One pull shot off Dale Steyn was so good it made people in the member's cry. He toughed out the hard times, handled the bowling well, and had set himself up for the sort of knock that allows you a few ups and downs without the threat of being dropped.

And then he dragged on.

The hate on the internet at Ravi was as immense as it was predictable. In a team like England's, he's a very easy target.

While you can question Ravi's technique at times, it's definitely strong enough to survive in Test cricket. His mind on the other hand, doesn't seem to be. There is something not quite firing for him. Something's holding him back. Something in his head.

It's not a dragon, as they can be stopped with a sword or by sacrificing a virgin. Ravi's problems are far more complicated than that. Maybe he needs security, maybe he needs a rest. But he needs something.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

RSS Feeds: Jarrod Kimber

Keywords: Technique

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Rob on (August 1, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

Ravi Bopara is the Rohit Sharma of England.

Posted by \GFlash on (July 30, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Even against the "weak demoralized" West Indies attack, he was dropped in every one of those centuries. 3 at Bridgetown alone.

Dude is seriously over rated

Posted by Arshad Khan on (July 30, 2012, 6:38 GMT)

Imagine Sachin lived in and qualfied to play for England. He would not even last 5 tests to go anonymous. Flat track bully with a lot of technical problems, that's what the so-called god of cricket is in reality! Remember the LBW decision against him in the World Cup semi finals against Ajmal? LoL

Posted by Ind on (July 29, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

@ll England fans..please stop commenting on Sachin and comparing your player with him. because in facts there is no one in England team in past or present who even can be compared with him. discuss on ur own weakness..not about Sachin. I dont know why people still picking him while he is not playing cricket. this series is going on SA vs ENG. India is not there. discuss about SA players..Eng players...discuss about how great is Jummy anderson (so called best bowler) lolz....

Posted by gudolerhum on (July 27, 2012, 19:43 GMT)

Unfortunate for Ravi, a really talented batsman who is under the cosh every time he steps on the Test arena. Is it any wonder he feels the pressure knowing that a) the press will be all over him unless he bats really well; and b) he will be dropped at the slightest hint of an excuse. This is almost exactly what the selectors did with Mark Ramprakash and wasted his talent entirely. Similarly with Graham Hick, wasted him by making him insecure and always looking over his shoulder. Some of the current players are definitely fire-proof despite having their ups and downs. Give the guy some feeling of stability and security and let him get on with batting - which he can do very well.

Posted by longmemory on (July 26, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Would you please spare us these comments by Kimber? He's not funny, definitely not very cerebral, and he tries too hard. This entire piece is about a lame play on "drag on." Surely there's some better talent out there that cricinfo can call upon than imposing this drivel on us?

Posted by Anonymous on (July 25, 2012, 23:55 GMT)

bring in Monty and drop overrated Swann

Posted by Jimmy Dingle on (July 25, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

Agree with Tom Ravi, like Ramprakash before him, and Prior and a host of others have been the 'fall guys' for England. The ones who's only consistent role for England was of being picked and then dropped then picked and then dropped - whilst others around were failing too. His confidence in this team must be shot. I even heard Ramprakash state that being selected and dropped all the time does not help. It just continues to load the pressure. Of course, he's the only working class player amongst a group of public schoolboys and South Africans as well.

I think if I were Ravi I'd tell the ECB, Strauss and Flower just what to do with their team!

Posted by Truemans Ghost on (July 24, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

It isn't entirely fair to dismiss his 3 tons in 3 matches against the windies. True they were against a weak attack, but there have been a lot of weak attacks, and a lot of flat tracks about for the last few years and not many batsmen have done what he did. I was at the Lords Test and I don't remember it as a sun soaked batting paradise either- the Windies couldn't bat in it.

All the same, despite the fact he is a player I would love to see do well, but he continually disappoints me. i know other England players failed in this match, but they have 40-50 averages which prove they do it a lot less than Ravi. I hope they stick with him and i hope he succeeds, but i won't be betting my pension on it.

Posted by ommer mirza on (July 24, 2012, 18:03 GMT)

there should be nick comptom in place of bopara

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