West Indies v England, 2nd ODI, Antigua March 2, 2014

Enigma Bopara stays cool in tricky chase


England 163 for 7 (Lumb 39, Bopara 38) beat West Indies 159 (Simmons 70, Parry 3-32) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Dobell: A much needed morale-boosting win

Ravi Bopara has been an England batting enigma: a man proud of his streetwise upbringing in East London but rarely able to bring that sense of astuteness to the 22 yards of turf that will make or break his cricketing reputation. But Bopara was calmness personified in Antigua as England batsmen flapped all around him and his unbeaten 38 secured a desperately-needed victory in a mundane contest.

This three-match series will be settled on the same ground on Wednesday and one hopes it will be more enthralling than this. At least England's stumbling display racked up the tension before they edged home by three wickets with more than five overs to spare. After a winter like the one they have endured, they will accept the win with relief.

A year ago, the England side contesting this ODI series in the Caribbean would have been presumed to be a 2nd XI. That might be regarded by some as an alibi, as a reason for patience, but without Bopara's poise, skittishly supported in an eighth-wicket stand of 58 by his captain Stuart Broad on a day when his luck was in, it would also have been presented as proof of the pitiful levels to which England's one-day cricket has sunk.

A turgid pitch, an eminently achievable target of 160 for all that, a maladroit batting performance: such was the story of a humdrum match in which England combined bewilderment against the spin of Sunil Narine with a series of soft dismissals. Had Broad's contest with Ravi Rampaul not been so blessed - a decision overturned on review, a hook falling safely at fine leg, a drop by Dwayne Bravo at slip - West Indies might have been celebrating a series win.

Shorn not just of the ego of Kevin Pietersen, but the more socially acceptable egos of Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales because of injury (the prognosis on both, incidentally, is more encouraging), England began by looking short of nous. Moeen Ali hooked into the wind, Luke Wright was bowled as he consistently failed to read Narine and when Michael Lumb's innings came to grief courtesy of Nikita Miller's lbw, self-doubt set in.

Root played Narine well, but he was deceived by a Dwayne Bravo delivery that stuck slightly in the wicket. Jos Buttler fell first ball, failing to ride the bounce of a bumper down the leg side, and Tim Bresnan was excellently run out by Dwayne Bravo from wide mid-on. In between that, Ben Stokes tickled Miller onto his pad and looped a catch to Denesh Ramdin, and chose to walk even as the umpire Joel Wilson shook his head. Stokes should not be castigated for his integrity, not for one moment, but one can bet that some place, some time, he will receive an homily about "professionalism".

If they were grateful for Stokes's honesty, West Indies had reason to be aggrieved about a pivotal event in their innings - the dismissal of Dwayne Bravo. From the moment TV umpire Marais Erasmus ruled Jos Buttler's stumping of Bravo was legitimate, West Indies' flow silted up like a Somerset river. The dismissal came the ball before the compulsory Powerplay and, instead of marching into it with two batsmen set - Bravo and Lendl Simmons - they reached it at 133 for 5 and lost five more wickets for 26, Rampaul illustrating their mental collapse when he holed out at long-off against James Tredwell with more than five overs left.

The on-field umpires had turned to Erasmus when Bravo was drawn down the pitch by Tredwell and Buttler lost the ball in the process of completing the stumping. Buttler conceded that he was unsure when the ball had escaped his grasp and TV replays seemed maddeningly inconclusive, but not so for Erasmus who ruled that Bravo was out. Ottis Gibson, West Indies' coach, did not hide his exasperation, rising from his laptop to hold out his hands towards the middle in disbelief.

Stephen Parry, England's debutant left-arm spinner, finished with three wickets and the man-of-the-match award. Parry is very much a one-day specialist, having played only six first-class matches by the age of 28. He acquitted himself well, showing none of the qualms suffered by another Lancashire slow left-armer, Simon Kerrigan, on his Test debut against Australia at The Oval last season.

His contribution in the batting Powerplay was crucial. Simmons had again played judiciously and when he struck Parry over long-on for six, the stakes were ramped up. Parry held his nerve, the next ball was a touch shorter, and Simmons's half-hearted attempt at a repeat fell well short. As West Indies fell away, Parry picked off Darren Sammy at short midwicket and had Sunil Narine stumped, this time a fail-safe affair from Buttler.

The first half of West Indies' innings was a drag. For those who missed the first one-day international in Antigua, the teams staged a repeat. England again managed four wickets by halfway, West Indies' top order played with a bit more energy, but effectively the outcome was the same: a collection of spin bowlers drawing suspicion from West Indies' batsmen as they wheeled away to good effect.

Root's dismissal of Kirk Edwards was the highlight, owing much to a fast catch by Tredwell at slip as the batsman tried to force through the offside. Broad had good moments against the Bravos, causing Darren to drag on from the wicket and finding enough venom in a bouncer to strike Dwayne on helmet and neck and necessitate treatment.

If Broad could therefore claim to have two Bravos, it was Bopara who ultimately got three cheers. Sheepish cheers perhaps, but it was a celebration that England desperately needed. "We made it quite hard work for ourselves," Broad said.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rohanblue on March 5, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    i dnt understand how two players bopara and rohit sharma keep getting so many chances? even though they perform once in 50 matches.......

  • riverlime on March 4, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    @bobmartin... The ball never touched the stumps. It flew out of the keeper's gloves BEFORE he broke the wicket, and it is clearly visible on the slow-motion replays, hence the surprise exhibited on this forum by everyone who watched the game. Next time, please watch the game before you post a comment.

  • JG2704 on March 4, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    @Patchmaster on (March 4, 2014, 0:38 GMT) To be fair to Bopara there was no need to up the pace here. I said at the time that even Ravi could not stagnate the RR to that degree and with the team looking likely to lose he did a decent job.

    But yes it does not mean that this way of playing is acceptable in all circumstances and I found it hard to believe that some of our commentators wanted him batting up the order as high as 3. At least down the order he is less likely to damage the team when chasing a half decent total or setting a total

  • Patchmaster on March 4, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    Typical Bopara - fails for a whole season, then makes a mediocre contribution, that glosses over his inability to score quickly and score under pressure, and he'll keep his place for another year. Tragic for Eng fans, as he'll just fail and fail again.

  • dummy4fb on March 4, 2014, 0:28 GMT

    People we have to be reasonable, England likewise West Indies suffered at the hands of the umpires. Now, based on the performance of both teams, do you honestly think that either team deserves a victory? absolutely not! I was really disappointed with the match, especially with most of the batsmen. I am happy to see that Jerome Taylor making some progress. There should be laws to govern how players retire in International cricket. If there was teams like England wont be affected.

  • RandyOZ on March 4, 2014, 0:06 GMT

    With the mess that England has been left in since their 5-0 drubbing at the hand of Australia (the second in less than 10 years), an incredibly scrappy win against an awful WI side is the best they can hope for.

  • JG2704 on March 3, 2014, 23:45 GMT

    Credit to Ravi here. He saw us through.

    We were lucky towards the end of the chase and Bravo was wrongly given out in my book. It looked like Buttler moved the stump with his glove without the ball in it and Buttler's body language was not of someone who thought he had taken the wicket. Stokes walking was a strange one as it looked like the umpire wasn't giving it. Naivety or great sportsmanship walking? It's like Broad - should he be lambasted for not walking in the Ashes or commennded for having the wherewithal to stand his ground when the natural instinct would have been to walk?

  • geoffboyc on March 3, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    Surprised to see people calling for Luke Wright to go. He may not score any runs or bowl many overs but he doesn't fall out with the skipper or undermine dressing room team spirit and surely that's more important.

  • SwingandSeam on March 3, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    I see Jerome Taylor is ripping it up against Guyana. Where has he been the last few years? He might be worth a recall.

  • bobmartin on March 3, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    So those people who are questioning the stumping of Bravo claim to know more about the laws of the game than an ICC Elite umpire. I suggest they acquaint themselves with the Laws.. The wicket was broken by the ball, not Buttler's gloves.. Therefore the decision of OUT was correct... Lucky dismissal ? Yes.. most definitely... But wrong decision ?... Most definitely NO.

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