England cricket July 23, 2012

Ravi and the Dragon

Ravi Bopara may have just been slain by the dragon. Not the giant lizard thing, but the term some cricketers use for a drag on (see what they did there?)
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rob on August 1, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Ravi Bopara is the Rohit Sharma of England.

  • \GFlash on July 30, 2012, 10:37 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

  • Arshad Khan on July 30, 2012, 5:38 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

  • Ind on July 29, 2012, 6:24 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....

  • gudolerhum on July 27, 2012, 18:43 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.

  • longmemory on July 26, 2012, 10:30 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?

  • Anonymous on July 25, 2012, 22:55 GMT

    bring in Monty and drop overrated Swann

  • Jimmy Dingle on July 25, 2012, 9:31 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!

  • Truemans Ghost on July 24, 2012, 17:05 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.

  • ommer mirza on July 24, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    there should be nick comptom in place of bopara

  • Rob on August 1, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Ravi Bopara is the Rohit Sharma of England.

  • \GFlash on July 30, 2012, 10:37 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

  • Arshad Khan on July 30, 2012, 5:38 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

  • Ind on July 29, 2012, 6:24 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....

  • gudolerhum on July 27, 2012, 18:43 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.

  • longmemory on July 26, 2012, 10:30 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?

  • Anonymous on July 25, 2012, 22:55 GMT

    bring in Monty and drop overrated Swann

  • Jimmy Dingle on July 25, 2012, 9:31 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!

  • Truemans Ghost on July 24, 2012, 17:05 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.

  • ommer mirza on July 24, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    there should be nick comptom in place of bopara

  • paul on July 24, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    It's unfortunate but the truth is that Ravi is not good enough as a test cricket. I hope someone out there in the english selection panel will realise it. Let's hope he is not another Greame Hick in the making. He is a fantastic limited overs player and maybe a first class cricketer. To make him continue failing at test level is not good for him and england. I think it's time England move on and start to nature a younger player. The same can be said for Rodolph in the South African line. A total waste of time on a cricketer who has failed. Why they keep picking him is beyond my imagination.

  • Tim on July 24, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    I know you're sticking the boot into Ravi here, but you're so selective with the way you rate the performances. His tonnes against the west indies are exactly what's the problem with English cricket, they look like world beaters against weak opposition and then simple don't deliver when the teams they brush up against are par and above.

    Ravi, personifies this, and all this talk of 'getting in his head' is just that, talk. Maybe there are some mental frailties there, but there is also lack of application and skill when confronted by bowlers who are more than a match for what he, as a batsmen, has to offer.

    Of course he's got swagger beating weak and/or out of form opposition, but perhaps a more realistic perspective on their opponents will generate a more accurate assessment of Ravi as a cricketer, and by extension a more accurate assessment of "Team England (with a few south africans)" ;-)

  • JackieL on July 24, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    You need to get your facts right. Ravi didn't get his three tons shortly after his ducks. The ducks came against Sri Lanka in 2007. The tons came in 2009. Not exactly 'shortly after'! Ravi never looks indestructible. I watched him get his first ton against the West Indies on an utter featherbed in Barbados where everyone got centuries except Shah. Bopara was dropped on 6 so he might have joined Shah. He has been nurtured by Flower like a foster father. He got the next two tons against a demoralised Windies team and then met his Waterloo at the Ashes. Well wouldn't be the first. But he hasn't done anything since then except be an Essex batsman that Essex mates Gooch, Cook , Flower are keen to support. Sometime this has to end to be fair to all the other good County batsmen wanting a chance. His Test record is mediocre, his ODI and t20 record the same and yet he is in all formats. Ravi doesn't need this kind of nepotism. No wonder he can't succeed being pushed by all his 'uncles'.

  • Tom on July 24, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    What Bopara needs is one of 2 things:

    1) To be totally and unquestionably dropped for a season, to know that he is not and will not be a part of Englands plans

    or 2) To be totally and unquestionably backed for 2 or 3 series. To be told that no matter what happens in this game you are playing in the next one, and the one after that.

    Bopara is a confidence player who has none. Initially that was due to the opposition, but now I blame the ECB and the selectors. The man doesn't know if he is coming or going and he is not mentally strong enough to sort that out for himself.

    Help the guy out, c'mon.

  • Vijay Rajan on July 24, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    Ravi Bopara is batting at a very important position and very under performing. He can't play pace. He is too indifferent to the situation and if England need to beat SA, they need to find a replacement. Even Owais Shah could smack a few and score 50+.

    Bopara needs a makeover

  • David on July 24, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    "he fought back to score three hundreds in three Tests against West Indies shortly after." Please let's stop holding these hundreds up as evidence of how wonderful Ravi can be. They were scored against a woeful West Indian bowling attack, the first two were on pitches like roads (in one of those matches the average for a batsman was over 100), and the third was in Durham where the West Indies barely turned up.

  • raghav on July 24, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    ravi, you dont worry people always critcise talented people,i have full faith on you ,u will bounce back shortly and shut the ugly mouth of legends who forget their time and start commenting on a great batsman

  • PJ on July 24, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    He is a very overrated player. I am suprised he even makes it to the English team. This shows the lack of options England have with regards to batsmen. If he was in India he would never make it to the main Indian team, may be Ranji trophy matches and the A side but not the National team.

  • K.Ayyappan on July 24, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    Finding a scape goat in Ravi for the total failure of England team from SA first innings itself it seems! Adding insult to the inept England bowling is the batting failure in second innings. Whatever happened to the batsmen in second innings is too puzzling to single out Ravi just because he dragged the ball on to his wicket. England last the match on day 2 itself.

  • SELLVA on July 24, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    Please ask ravi to use the "V" for the first 50-60 runs then he can go for the pull or cut with toes only on the ground shots

  • alex on July 24, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    Ravi Bopara is a productiver player. he will notw in you game like others but if you give cushion around him andagainst weak bowling attack he will pile runs like sachin. Sachin started yearly. BUT never allow ravi bopara to play against aussies are south africa. Not good for england. Pressure situations he can not handle. Period.

  • Nomi on July 24, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    My technique is exceptional, but I keep getting out to bad shots. Dragons in my head, I guess, like Bopara's. I am wondering if you can tell me where to get hold of a few virgins to sacrifice, Jarrod. You mention so flippantly that dragons can be got rid of that way. Thanks.

  • Rick on July 24, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    Nothing against Bopara, but I just can't understand why he has been gifted so many chances, or even why he was picked to begin with. He has now played 13 tests and 78 ODIs and averages in the low 30's in both formats. What makes people think he's suddenly going to set the world on fire now, after all the previous opporunities? He only averages 42 at First Class level which suggests an good, but not great player. He seems to be mainly in the team to bowl some wobbly seamers, which is just ridiculous.

  • tmv on July 24, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    Maybe Tolkien was inspired when he saw Steyn's ancestors guarding treasure in the South African veld with fire and claw...

  • Earl J on July 24, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    What is wrong with Strauss's head.He made zero in the first inning and played a desperate uncalled for shot in the second when he should of been playing to not get out.There is nothing wrong with Ravi's head. What happened to Kevin's head? Did he think he was playing in a 20/20 game? What is wrong with Bell's head? He was given a life at 21...one less than Ravi made.He should of gone on to bat not out. What happened to Broad's mind? Did he look like he was interested in playing? What happened to Swann's mind? Did Smith get into his head and screw him up? If Monty was playing and did not get any wickets,he would of been blamed and people would be calling for him to be replaced. If you are looking for someone to blame you are looking in the wrong spot. What England should do is produce a fast wicket for the next test and let us see how their batsmen handle the SA bowlers. Leave Ravi out and bring Bairstow or whom ever they want to replace Ravi with. GOOD LUCK

  • PDTM on July 23, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    Someone up there doesn't like Ravi. And I like to think at least one of the cricketing gods has Dale Steyn's eyes.

  • Anish Lakhani on July 23, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    He clearly needs the security of being given 10-15 test matches in the team regardless of performance. This will give him the confidence to perform. Next match, Ravi to score twin hundreds and south africa to win by an innings!

  • Anish Lakhani on July 23, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    He clearly needs the security of being given 10-15 test matches in the team regardless of performance. This will give him the confidence to perform. Next match, Ravi to score twin hundreds and south africa to win by an innings!

  • Anish Lakhani on July 23, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    He clearly needs the security of being given 10-15 test matches in the team regardless of performance. This will give him the confidence to perform. Next match, Ravi to score twin hundreds and south africa to win by an innings!

  • Alex on July 23, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    It is utterly disgraceful the way english fans and media treat him. The treatment itself is a cause of the lack of security. They should be disgusted with themselves.

  • Alex on July 23, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    It is utterly disgraceful the way english fans and media treat him. The treatment itself is a cause of the lack of security. They should be disgusted with themselves.

  • Naveed on July 23, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Tim Bresnan is a better batsman than Ravi. If Tim is promoted ahead of Ravi and Matt is ahead of Ravi, then what England needs a bowling all rounder, or a very specialist Batsman at number 6. Is Ravi that specialist Batsman? I guess not.

  • Anonymous on July 23, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    He needs to get his head right . Otherwise it would be curtains for his test career.

  • Jeff on July 23, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    A flat track bully who can murder benign attacks on flat pitches, but has proved time and time again he lacks both the natural talent and the mental toughness to be an international player. Playing with Bopara is like playing with ten.

  • FAnon on July 23, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    Someone who writes about cricket with a memory. Good to see. Pity Bopara let Warne get into his head like that, expected more of him. And too right, he is an easy target in an England side filled with individuals who it seems are immune to being dropped. Wasnt so long ago that Cook and Broad had horror runs, as is Strauss currently. Good to see the Saffers win though they should really pick their WK. Bizarre that he wasnt picked

  • DM on July 23, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Bopara is absolutely an easy target, right now. At least until he consistently scores a few runs at the test level. The worst that we can do for his career & future is to continue to target him. Its okay for his test cricketing opponents to target him. He probably has a better chance to work that out. But, if all the writers & critics continue to endlessly pick on him, then the selectors might as well give up on him right away. Stop picking on his every failure - thats what he needs.

  • Info on July 23, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Just leave him alone, its the articles like yours that show more bad about him then good.

    He's the only shining armor in this Eng Batting lineup. Ask Indian Team, and they'll attest to this that they only treat KP and him as their genuine performers with Bat.

    cheers.

  • sameer on July 23, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    i dont know about that.. every other england player made an ass of himself out there, that too twice. he seems to b n easy target for u too.

  • Duncan on July 23, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    I am an SA supporter, but really hoped Ravi would do well because he played his of-season for the Dolphins and seemed to gell well with the team, seems like a nice guy and all that. I totally get that "felt more like running out on the field and hugging a player" poor guy, I hope things improve for him (you did not even mention the bowling stats!)

  • venkat on July 23, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Excellent words!!! Ravi will definately fire in de series ,,,

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  • venkat on July 23, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Excellent words!!! Ravi will definately fire in de series ,,,

  • Duncan on July 23, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    I am an SA supporter, but really hoped Ravi would do well because he played his of-season for the Dolphins and seemed to gell well with the team, seems like a nice guy and all that. I totally get that "felt more like running out on the field and hugging a player" poor guy, I hope things improve for him (you did not even mention the bowling stats!)

  • sameer on July 23, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    i dont know about that.. every other england player made an ass of himself out there, that too twice. he seems to b n easy target for u too.

  • Info on July 23, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Just leave him alone, its the articles like yours that show more bad about him then good.

    He's the only shining armor in this Eng Batting lineup. Ask Indian Team, and they'll attest to this that they only treat KP and him as their genuine performers with Bat.

    cheers.

  • DM on July 23, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Bopara is absolutely an easy target, right now. At least until he consistently scores a few runs at the test level. The worst that we can do for his career & future is to continue to target him. Its okay for his test cricketing opponents to target him. He probably has a better chance to work that out. But, if all the writers & critics continue to endlessly pick on him, then the selectors might as well give up on him right away. Stop picking on his every failure - thats what he needs.

  • FAnon on July 23, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    Someone who writes about cricket with a memory. Good to see. Pity Bopara let Warne get into his head like that, expected more of him. And too right, he is an easy target in an England side filled with individuals who it seems are immune to being dropped. Wasnt so long ago that Cook and Broad had horror runs, as is Strauss currently. Good to see the Saffers win though they should really pick their WK. Bizarre that he wasnt picked

  • Jeff on July 23, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    A flat track bully who can murder benign attacks on flat pitches, but has proved time and time again he lacks both the natural talent and the mental toughness to be an international player. Playing with Bopara is like playing with ten.

  • Anonymous on July 23, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    He needs to get his head right . Otherwise it would be curtains for his test career.

  • Naveed on July 23, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Tim Bresnan is a better batsman than Ravi. If Tim is promoted ahead of Ravi and Matt is ahead of Ravi, then what England needs a bowling all rounder, or a very specialist Batsman at number 6. Is Ravi that specialist Batsman? I guess not.

  • Alex on July 23, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    It is utterly disgraceful the way english fans and media treat him. The treatment itself is a cause of the lack of security. They should be disgusted with themselves.