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The Morgan-Bopara impetus to England's line-up

The presence of these two batsmen has made England's lower middle order more explosive, and given the team a more formidable look in ODIs

S Rajesh

September 6, 2013

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Eoin Morgan drives through the off side, England v India, Champions Trophy final, Edgbaston, June 23, 2013
Eoin Morgan has already scored as many ODI hundreds as any other England batsman from the No. 5 slot or lower in ODIs © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Eoin Morgan | Ravi Bopara | Paul Collingwood
Teams: England

With England resting five of their Ashes stars for the five-ODI series against Australia, the focus will be on other names. Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root - who were all part of the Ashes side - are in the ODI squad as well, but this series will also cast the spotlight on some of the other batsmen like Eoin Morgan, who's also England's captain for the series, and Ravi Bopara, who has never quite nailed a regular spot in the team despite his undoubted potential.

Both Morgan and Bopara made the right moves in the ODI against Ireland earlier this week: batting at Nos. 5 and 6, both scored hundreds to help England to an ultimately comfortable six-wicket win. Admittedly, it was only a game against Ireland, but England were under a fair amount of pressure when these two came together - they had been reduced to 48 for 4 in the 15th over, chasing 270. The 226-run partnership between Morgan and Bopara is an ODI record for the fifth wicket, and only the second instance of a No. 5 and No. 6 batsman scoring centuries in an innings: the previous such instance was 16 years ago, by India against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium, when Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja scored centuries after India had been reduced to 64 for 4 chasing 303; they ended up losing the match by two runs.

Traditionally, England haven't always had batsmen in the lower middle order who could take charge and force the pace: between 2000 and 2007, for example, the strike rate of English batsmen who batted between No. 5 and No. 7 was 76.88, sixth among all teams, and poorer than Australia, West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa and India (in matches against Test-playing sides). In the period since the 2011 World Cup, though, the strike rate of England's lower middle order (Nos. 5 to 7) has increased to 93.26, the best among all sides. The average is significantly lower than India's MS Dhoni-led line-up, but the high strike rate shows that England have found the enforcers in that part of their batting order, which is often a key element in ODIs. Bangladesh have the second-best average among all teams - a position they don't usually find themselves in - thanks to the exploits of Shakib-al-Hasan, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim.

Nos. 5-7 for each team in ODIs since the 2011 World Cup*
Team Matches Inngs Runs Average SR Ave*SR
India 59 144 4273 42.73 89.88 38.41
Bangladesh 29 78 2338 40.31 81.49 32.85
England 46 101 2297 30.22 93.26 28.18
Australia 47 129 24 31.17 87.18 27.17
South Africa 33 89 1910 29.84 87.33 26.06
Pakistan 51 131 2948 27.29 82.90 22.62
Zimbabwe 28 77 1887 28.59 77.39 22.13
New Zealand 30 79 1776 26.11 82.41 21.52
West Indies 55 150 3272 24.97 79.24 19.79
Sri Lanka 70 168 3580 25.21 76.51 19.29
* In ODIs against the Test-playing sides

The two batsmen who've scored the most runs for England in these three positions are Morgan and Bopara, and they've done it at a brisk rate too. (Remember, these numbers are only against Test sides, so they exclude the exploits of these batsmen against Ireland earlier this week.)

Morgan has scored at more than a run a ball during this period, with a couple of key innings at No. 5: against Australia at Lord's last year, he scored 89 off 63 balls to propel England to 272, which was enough to win them the game by 15 runs. Against South Africa at The Oval a little later that year, he scored 73 off 67 in a chase of 212, helping England win a tight game by four wickets. Both those performances won him Man-of-the-Match awards. In fact, in just 80 matches for England, Morgan has already won seven such awards, which puts him in joint 11th position for England.

Bopara has been resourceful down the order as well, even if he has only topped 50 once when batting between Nos. 5 and 7 during this period in 13 innings: that was a fine 96 against India in a tied game at Lord's a couple of year ago. Apart from that, he has made several quick 30s and 40s at faster than a run a ball, which is exactly the sort of contribution required from those batting in the lower middle order.

England's batsmen at Nos. 5-7 in ODIs since the 2011 World Cup*
Batsman Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 4s/ 6s
Eoin Morgan 27 733 36.65 101.38 55/ 19
Ravi Bopara 13 399 39.90 93.88 26/ 7
Samit Patel 16 353 39.22 92.65 29/ 8
* In ODIs against the Test-playing sides

For much of the 2000s, Paul Collingwood was England's go-to man in ODIs when they were in trouble. In 138 innings when he batted between Nos. 5 and 7, Collingwood scored four hundreds and 21 fifties, and averaged 34.12. Overall in his career, he scored four centuries from 150 innings when batting at No. 5 or lower. Incredibly, Morgan has already equalled that mark in 69 innings, and no other England batsman has scored more hundreds from these positions. Even when considering batsmen from all teams, only three - MS Dhoni, Andrew Symonds, and Yuvraj Singh - have scored more than five hundreds from No. 5 or lower in ODIs.

Most ODI hundreds from No. 5 or lower in ODIs
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Yuvraj Singh 149 4837 39.64 86.68 7/ 33
Andrew Symonds 136 4337 40.15 92.88 6/ 25
MS Dhoni 164 5357 46.18 84.28 5/ 32
Eoin Morgan 69 2137 41.09 93.89 4/ 11
Paul Collingwood 150 4115 34.87 78.77 4/ 23
Chris Cairns 173 4461 29.93 84.05 4/ 23

In all ODIs since the 2009 Champions Trophy, Morgan is among the top run-scorers from No. 5 or lower. Not only has he scored 1976 runs - the third-highest during this period - he has done so at an average and strike rate comparable with the best. His scoring rate is as good as those of Suresh Raina and Kieron Pollard, while his average is better. Morgan's conversion rate of fifties to hundreds is outstanding too, especially given the position he bats in.

Bopara doesn't find himself among the top run-getters, but his numbers are impressive too - 739 runs at an average of 43.47, and a strike rate of 96.09. Add his useful medium pace, and he is ideal as a No. 6 or No. 7 player.

Five matches against Australia will give both Morgan, now the captain, and Bopara plenty of opportunities to further cement their places at positions which are difficult to occupy in one-day internationals. England's ODI team can only be the stronger for it.

Most runs scored from No. 5 or lower in ODIs since Sep 25, 2009
Batsman Innings Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Suresh Raina 85 2464 36.23 94.22 1/ 16
MS Dhoni 66 2418 54.95 83.75 4/ 14
Eoin Morgan 61 1976 42.95 94.86 4/ 10
Umar Akmal 58 1861 37.97 83.75 0/ 16
Shakib Al Hasan 55 1729 36.02 81.40 2/ 12
Angelo Mathews 69 1683 35.06 83.15 0/ 12
Kieron Pollard 65 1677 27.49 94.63 3/ 6

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by HashRulz on (September 7, 2013, 13:57 GMT)

I think the best England odi 11is cook(c),kp,trott,root,morgan,bopara,buttler(wk),broad,swann,jimmy,finn or cook(c),kp,trott,root,morgan(wk), bell,bopara,,broad,swann,jimmy,finn

Posted by Cricfacts on (September 7, 2013, 2:55 GMT)

i've been saying before this article that Borpara and Morgan are the guys for england number 5 and 6. i love their temperament and approach to the game. they can be a deadly pair when England is chasing. they nudge it around nicely and can hit the boundary with ease. if these two make it to the 2015 world cup with cook, Bell, KP, swann, anderson and broad, then my money would be on england as favourites for the 2015 tournament.

Posted by cloudmess on (September 6, 2013, 23:13 GMT)

Don't agree. This is based on their recent partnership against Ireland. Morgan could still be a very good ODI player, but his technique has been found out a little in the last few years. Bopara just tends to melt against quality opposition,.

Posted by gsingh7 on (September 6, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

really impressed by bopara and morgancombination . they do retain some of the traits of their ancestry. bopara for example though have poor footwork but what he posses is flair and aggression against spinners. much like indian players and bopara is a sikh born in england to indian parents.he cud have chosen india as well to play but it was wise choice as india have thousands of domestic batsmen with little scope of being selected in national team. morgan on the other hand plays with power and grit u normally associate with irish lads, a quality he inherited by birth. but where they lack is most important trait i.e. mental fortitude. both were ruthlessly exposed and were shut down by average pacer ishant in ct2013 finals. so i dont think they will prosper in international cricket where mental strength is of utmost importance. but they should still have a go.

Posted by Criketanand on (September 6, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

COOK last 3 years against AUS--35, against Pak--80.75 against SA-17.80 against WI-56

since 2007 all stats are the same except against WI drops to 35.6

Bell last 3 years

Aus--36.16 Pak-27.5 SA-34.3 WI-68.66

last 10 years Aus--37.8 Pak-53.16 SA-32.33 WI-48.71

so morgan and bopara havent been all that bad against those teams when compared to cook and bell

Posted by Criketanand on (September 6, 2013, 12:08 GMT)

as suggested by jimbond had a quick look for over the last 3 years Bopara has record of against Aust -avg--114. againt Pakistan avg-41.50 against SA 16.40 and against WI - 15.50 now if we change criteria to from 2007 then

against aust-- 42.30 against Pak--41.50 against SA--18.33 against WI--29.50

now eon morgan from 2011 on against AUst--36.42 against Pak-48.50 against SA--50.33 against WI-14.00

over since 2007 against Aust--34.47 against Pak-41.85 against SA--50.16 against WI--30.33

Posted by uberBadger on (September 6, 2013, 10:12 GMT)

@sifter132 - I like the analysis of 30 over doubling conversions! I think that illustrates England's problems very nicely.

However, I'm not sure this is Morgan and Bopara's fault. I think it has more to do with England's approach. Compare the styles of Cook and Trott with the likes of Sewag, Tendulkar, Gayle, Warner, Watson etc. England's top order are very consistent but don't have the variety in their game to accelerate at the back end of an innings. Jonathan Trott has hit three 6s in his entire ODI career. Essentially if he is still around in the final 10 overs (and that is very likely), the chances of the team accelerating as effectively as a team comprising a Tendulkar or an Amla are slim and puts much more pressure on the likes of Morgan/Bopara at the other end to force the rate.

Posted by Vilander on (September 6, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

i think it would be good to split their performace against aus,ind,sa,nz seperately from sl,pak,wi,bd

Posted by   on (September 6, 2013, 5:13 GMT)

pls can u do the same stat for micheal clarke and micheal hussey

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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