Champions Trophy 2013

How many lives for Bopara?

If Bopara had begun this season with a bang then a return would have been more understandable, but a Championship average of 23 is not compelling - even though his latest selection is for white-ball, rather than red-ball cricket

Andrew McGlashan

May 3, 2013

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Ravi Bopara was bowled for 1, Sri Lanka v England, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Pallekele, October 1, 2012
Ravi Bopara's most recent innings for England ended with him bowled for 1 against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
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Ravi Bopara has previously talked about being a dog lover, but perhaps a cat would be a more suitable companion for him. After all, he appears to have nine lives when it comes to his England career.

England do not cast off players on a whim. It is a loyal, inclusive, set-up where snap judgements are rare. But Bopara is becoming this generation's Graeme Hick or Mark Ramprakash with the number of chances he is being given, in the hope that he will flourish as an international cricketer as many expected when he was a rare bright spot to emerge from the 2007 World Cup. In the six years since there have been fleeting suggestions that he has cracked the top level only for his game to come tumbling apart as it did last summer.

Bopara's difficulties last year were not purely to do with cricket, and he had hinted at another breakthrough against Australia before his problems, but it was not the first time a seemingly fragile mindset had been disturbed.

A one-day tournament, which is almost a knockout from start to finish, is not a place for someone easily shaken off course although Paul Grayson, his coach at Essex, believes the mental side of Bopara's game is in good order. "I've seen him when he's been down. He's not down at the moment and I think he's due some runs," Grayson told BBC Radio Essex earlier this week.

When Bopara last played for England, bizarrely recalled for the must-win match against Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20, he looked bereft of form and confidence. It was not nice to watch. He needed some time away to clear his head, but when he returned to action during the winter he could not maintain a place for his Bangladesh Premier League franchise although he enjoyed slightly more success (190 runs at 27.14) in South Africa's domestic Twenty20.

If he had begun this season with a bang then a return would have been more understandable, but a Championship average of 23.60 is not compelling - even though his latest selection is for white-ball, rather than red-ball cricket.

His recall for the Champions Trophy suggests he was going to be there all along. His bowling, which became more effective as his batting slumped last year, has clearly had a persuasive impact on Geoff Miller and Ashley Giles - and it was impressive against Australia and South Africa last year - but it would be stretching the point to suggested he could be regularly entrusted with 10 overs even in English conditions.

And, for all his ability (a word so often associated with Bopara), is he really needed at No. 7 behind Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler? His best one-day innings for England have actually been higher up - he averages 33.12 at No. 4 with five fifites in 19 innings and 34.37 at No. 5 - but it is very hard to see how he finds a place anywhere from No. 3 to No. 6.

As that suggests, being part of the 15-man squad could be the closest Bopara comes to actually getting in the team. Tim Bresnan and Chris Woakes should be vying for the No. 7 spot (Woakes edges it on batting, Bresnan on bowling) and Joe Root has slotted almost effortlessly into one-day international cricket, showing a versatility to play a variety of innings.

But regardless of whether Bopara actually plays, it is another significant decision in the early days of Giles' one-day team. He has not been afraid of putting his stamp on the side after assuming control from Andy Flower in January having previously dropped Craig Kieswetter and Jade Dernbach. The form of that pair had made it clear they needed a break from the international stage, whereas the form of Bopara has not convinced that he deserves another opportunity and although a skill of selecting is looking beyond the numbers his career is more than a fair sample size.

Everyone will wish Bopara the best, of course, but there are plenty of doubters that need convincing. His lives are running out.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 8, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

Bopara should play in Bangladesh Premier League only.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (May 6, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

@maximum6 on (May 4, 2013, 14:00 GMT), who here has hailed Wright as a saviour? Noone as far as I've seen. Praise of Wright is based primarily on his good showing with the bat in T20 over the last few years, both for England and in domestic leagues. He's probably been England's best T20I batsman lately. That is by no means a guarantee but is indicative that he could perform significantly better in ODIs than on previous occasions. Most people seem to agree that Bopara is the better option with the ball while Wright would be the better option with the bat, which does suggest that his bowling is a significant reason for Bopara's selection.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 5, 2013, 20:57 GMT)

@Wayne Perry on (May 5, 2013, 19:14 GMT) When Trego bats without restraint he's a different animal from the one who tries to bat responsibly. Part of me quite likes it when Somerset players get ignored because it makes the team stronger

Posted by   on (May 5, 2013, 19:14 GMT)

The fact that Bopara has been picked with no form behind him continues to show that England still are not sure about who to play in the # 7 spot in ODIs. The ghost of Flintoff lives on.

I still believe that Peter Trego is the best man equipped to fill the roll, too bad he is not on the selectors radar.

Posted by RodStark on (May 5, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

I greeted Bopara's selction with the shared shock horror of most England supporters, but after calming down, I realized it does knind of makes sense. First, England are out to win the trophy, so this is no time to be experimenting. Second, it's obvious he hasn't been picked as a top-order batsman; in fact it would take a couple of injuries for him to get a look in in the top six. (This is quite a come down for someone who was once hailed as England's long-term solution to the test number three position.) It looks like they want the option of either a batting all-rounder or a bowling-all rounder at number seven, and the only alternatives for the batting all-rounder would be Patel, Wright, or Ricky Clarke. Clarke would fall into the experimental category, and Patel's bowling is unlikely to either wicket-taking or economical. For me, it would have been a close thing between Wright and Bopara, but Bopara's bowling has been pretty econimical in ODIs, and his batting is more versatile than W

Posted by Tromperie on (May 4, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

@Richard: I can only assume that the Taunton factor is putting them off from selecting Hildreth, along with the fact that his form's tailed off slightly over the past season or two, from my impression.

@jonesy2: Bopara, for all his unsuitability for international cricket, is a better player in FC cricket, and probably even in Tests and ODIs, than Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, to name but two. Let's not forget that Marsh averaged less than 3 at home against a dire India attack last year, and Maxwell looked hopelessly, and at times, comically out of his depth a few months ago.

Posted by azhar44 on (May 4, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

Bopara and rohit sharma two luckiest cricketers of this era

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (May 4, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

I suspect Bopara is in for his bowling in the early season. Maybe he would be harder to face than Patel,though the latter with the ball is reasonably successful. It has to be that. Neither player has done it with the bat,while Patel is less mobile in the field. Around the place I see comments and votes for Wright. The absurdity of Wright being hailed as some sort of ODI Messiah is crystal clear. If neither Patel nor Bopara deserve the spot then Wright should be miles away from selection. Completely off the wall. I see my antipodean friends are here to spread despair and hopelessness like a boomerang. Reality check required! Are they playing the Test matches in A+E or the physio's room? Thanks for the humour. Anyway I think the selectors have missed a good time to pick an excting prospect failing all else,and Bopara's selection shows they are not thinking right.

Posted by jonesy2 on (May 4, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

this sort of thing just illustrates how much of a pathetic joke England are and that they don't just lack depth but they lack any sort of talent at all. bopara would have claim to being the worst player to play international cricket in the last 5 years except England keep it hard to tell with the selections of other players like jade dernbach, tim bresnan, stuart broad and probably more i cant think of right now who could all claim to be just that

Posted by jackthelad on (May 4, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

Randy, it really is time you got yourself a decent set of blinkers that at least allow you to see something - anything!; part of the reason many Australian, South African and other national players have improved and rounded their game is that they have had time on the English County circuit. Part of the reason Australia have such a dismal side is that T20 has made a mockery of the Sheffield Shield, and players get little experience under diverse conditions. I aint a one-eyed Englishman (indeed I haven't lived there for many years) but I hold it my right, my duty and my pleasure to point out utter balderdash when I see it.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 4, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

@golgo_85 on (May 3, 2013, 20:42 GMT) NO !!! - Bopara has had plenty of chances up the order and he usually labours to a 20 or 30 and puts those below him under too much pressure to up the ante. If Eng play him (and they may not even play him) anything higher than 7 then I'm against his inclusion. Also if his role is seen more as a bowling all rounder for this comp he may feel less inhibited with the bat with the release of pressure he'll have

Personally I disagree more with him being in the Lions team

Posted by   on (May 4, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

No over analysis required, just an average county batsman.. If Bopara gets a dozen chances, why a player like Hildreth not even one?

Posted by Patchmaster on (May 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT)

I cannot believe that there is no better player than Bopara on the country circuit - ridiculous selection.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (May 4, 2013, 2:17 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (May 3, 2013, 16:41 GMT), he's probably just in the squad for the game against Australia. Boapara's average of 91 and 4 wickets at 14.25 in a 4-0 series victory on Australia's last visit paints a pretty clear picture of where the talent's thin.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2013, 22:24 GMT)

I don't see why so much fuss has been made over his selection. He's always been in the selectors plans and has played when others have been injured or rested (like Cook, Bell, Pietersen etc) and has sat out one others have been given a chance (like Bairstow, Root or Buttler) and lets rememeber he was great against Australia last year.

Pietersen and Kieswetter are injured so two potential rivals are gone and which only leaves Samit Patel as any batsmen whos been anywhere near the ODI team recently and Bopara's medium pace is probably more useful in English conditions than Patel's spin

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (May 3, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

Funny you still insist on posting on these threads Randy, despite Inverarity et al. lambasting the current tallent pool in Aus. and so many damning articles on the Aus. pages these days. Even the players that do eventually get picked for Aus. seem to go through the England county systems for some much-needed experience... even learning how to play/cope with the longer, better formats.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (May 3, 2013, 21:24 GMT)

They say cats have nine... There are several players in the England selectors's minds that have many more. It's really odd because they (the selectors and Ashley Giles) keep harping on about "ruthlessness" and "choosing on merit". I still see too much short-sightedness and stubborn selections based on ancient form/performances.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (May 3, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

Bopara? Ha! At least England will add some comedy to the Champions Trophy, which is in need of a bit of PR help.

Posted by golgo_85 on (May 3, 2013, 20:42 GMT)

Bopara needs to bat higher up, simple as that - batting at no. 6/7 won't do his confidence any good given any circumstance whatsoever.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2013, 18:41 GMT)

That is the reservation with Bopara's selection! Just how many chances will he get? And I simply refuse to buy the excuse that England are thin on talent! Their domestic circuit still remains one of the best out there.

Posted by Kapstif on (May 3, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

Funny you should say that Randy, with his first class average bring in excess of 40, he would walk into the current Aussie test side!

Posted by dan9 on (May 3, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

RandyOz - where've you been son ? Your perceptive, insightful comments have been much missed on this site. So odd that your PC crashed when your lads were being thrashed 4-0 on the sub continent but you've popped up just in time to malign a system that has turned out test ready players for the past decade, whereas the Sheffield Shield gives you what ??

Posted by RandyOZ on (May 3, 2013, 16:41 GMT)

Well he is only back because the talent is so thin. You can't blame the selectors when they have nothing to chose from; it is a result of a very weak county system.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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