England v Sri Lanka, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong March 26, 2014

Bopara intent on clearing the ropes

37

England go into their second match of the Super 10s in a position where defeat could effectively spell the end of their World T20 campaign after little more than a week in Bangladesh. They face Sri Lanka, ranked No. 1 in the format and on the back of two wins from two; England, meanwhile, have won two of their last eight T20s. The good news is that Ravi Bopara has been dreaming of hitting sixes.

Bopara may eventually command a place in the order higher than his current station at No.6 - it would likely have been seven had Joe Root not suffered a broken thumb in the Caribbean - but he has gamely adapted to the role of a gun-slinging six-shooter coming in below Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler. He knows that the pressure to start clearing the ropes is almost immediate, even against as fiendish a late-innings bowler as Lasith Malinga.

"Obviously you have to hit sixes in T20 cricket to push the run-rates up. I can only speak for myself but I do need to practise hitting the balls over the ropes," he said. "I'm going to face roughly between 10-20 balls, at most, batting at number six, so I really need to be ready to hit a six after my third or fourth ball."

What about needing to hit a six off the first ball? Off Malinga? Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka's captain, almost creased up at the idea, saying he had never seen it done. "I can't hit a six against Malinga," he said.

Bopara has only been dismissed by Malinga twice in 13 encounters, both on England's tour of Sri Lanka in 2007, although that is not necessarily proof of mastery. Just hitting Malinga is what some batsmen dream of - ask Netherlands - and Bopara said that his match strategy may involve resorting to something a little smarter.

"I have been lying in my bed at times and thought: why don't I just hit the first ball for six?" he said. "Because more often than not, the bowler just wants to land it on a length and hopefully get a dot. So it's probably the best ball to hit out of the park. Yeah, I have thought about it.

I have been lying in my bed at times and thought: why don't I just hit the first ball for six?
Ravi Bopara

"It is tough to hit someone like Malinga out of the park consistently, which is why he's probably the best in the world. The best way to approach Malinga is to try to deflect him, past the gaps behind point, hopefully get bat on it behind square, that sort of stuff. That is the best way to approach him, because he does have a very, very good slower ball and if you're looking to have a big swing at him, that slower ball can do you as well. Personally, I'd try to deflect him."

England's sketchy recent form with the bat comprises several factors, not least being injury-enforced changes to personnel. Michael Lumb and Alex Hales, one of the most successful opening partnerships in the game, have only twice produced significant stands since August - 111 at Chester-le-Street and 98 at Bridgetown - and both times England have won.

Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, appears to have struggled with the extra demands being made of him as England's marquee short-form player. His average dipped below 30 for the first time since his second T20 international innings, earlier this month and a careworn 12 from 15 balls on Saturday maintained the slump. He seems more at ease in the finisher role he performed at the start of his career and tellingly averages 19.00 at No. 4 compared to 45.84 at No. 5.

With Moeen Ali showing an apparent flair for batting at three against New Zealand (soft dismissal notwithstanding), perhaps Bopara, who showed his affinity for this part of the world by finishing as top-scorer in last year's Dhaka Premier League, could provide a solution.

"I'd love to bat a little higher, but that's not my decision," he said. "The conditions in the Dhaka Premier League were slightly different. We didn't play any of the games in the night. They were slightly drier and lower wickets, but in terms of batting up the order, yes, I'd love to bat higher up but that's not my decision, and that's probably not my role in the team."

Stuart Broad talked before England's opening game about the need for continuity of selection and players to know their roles. Bopara seems to know his and, following a nomadic international career that has involved more comebacks and reinventions than the line-up of The Fall, it may serve current purposes to keep things that way. Hit sixes, win the match, nothing more complicated than that.

"It is a must-win game for us. I don't think we know the mathematical side of it - we have to win. Winning against Sri Lanka would be a big thing for us, a big confidence boost and that's how we're looking at it."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SoyQuearns on March 28, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    @CodandChips - not one other team in the world has such a lineup, so it is obviously a sore point. I did not directly imply nor deny that there are other factors at play. KP never got into the English way of playing (read: boring and predictable), but the others probably will.

    But this sore point is, and rightly so, a sensitive issue for English fans, your reaction to the issue (confirmed by you responding twice) underlines this fact unarguably.

    It is, again rightly, the cause of mock and alarm for other countries when they assess an English cricket lineup. It is what it is. It's not naive to point out the fact that, at times, more than half the team was born elsewhere - you can't be naive for pointing out facts.

    I'm pleased this England/Ireland/South African mish-mash won last night as I had a multi-bet on them winning.

    What they really need is a spinner, so I'd recommend appointing a panel that scours Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan for talent whereby the talent has a UK p'port.

  • ADARSH100 on March 27, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Dhoni, Kohli, Raina hit Malinga for sixes. Indians know how to tackle Malinga than any other teams. Even Malinga said its hard to bowl to Dhoni and Kohli.

  • mohammed-ismail on March 27, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I'm predicting a 5 wicket win for England.

  • Great_Chucker on March 27, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    SL has been lucky with toss ,they will be pulverized if they bowl second as their mediocre bowlers will be found wanting

  • SKoshi. on March 27, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    @mohammed-ismail, SL getting through to the semis by FLUKE, get real brother. By far Sri Lanka is much better than most of these teams and they have shown it again and again. We play as a team and don't just hope for someone to come in and go Boom Boom to with his eyes closed to win a match. So Pakistan beating SL, well think again dude. If i could recall correctly recently we have shown Pakistan a thing or two in how to play cricket correctly and win. I am sure that you are still hurt with the Asia Cup defeat, well get ready for another.

  • NAD_SL on March 27, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    @mohammed-ismail

    If SL win the cup this time, will you still think that 'Inshaallah' thingy helps you or your team?

    No, Its Hardwork that matters and Sri Lankans are hard workers, period.

  • ksquared on March 27, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    well mr mohammed-ismail it is not SL that need a reality check it is ur team PAK got thrashed by IND and lost twice to SL in the asia cup nearly lost to AUS after scoring 190 odd I won't be surprised if the Windies give u a hiding!!!!!

  • mohammed-ismail on March 27, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Today England is going to win and give these arrogant SL fans a reality check. At present SL is simply an overrated team. Inshallah, England will thrash Srilanka today & next NZ will also win against SL. If somehow by FLUKE SL enter semis, then Pakistan will thrash SL. This is going to happen Inshaallah.

  • CodandChips on March 27, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    @SoyQuearns continuing on, you mention New Zealand so are referring to Stokes. So the fact he's lived here since 12, and as a result has become a geordie not good enough? Listen to his accent, look at his behavior. Also how much of his cricket would he have learnt in primary school? Arguably he has more right to choose England than choose NewZealand.

  • on March 27, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    srilankan players are hard worker and knows the value of team work .England does not have their combination right .perry should be in team .bopara and moeen ali in top 3. . they can drop hales as he is not in his touch.or put bell as an opener with ali at no. 3 and bopara on4 .followed by morgan,buttler ,stokes..

  • SoyQuearns on March 28, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    @CodandChips - not one other team in the world has such a lineup, so it is obviously a sore point. I did not directly imply nor deny that there are other factors at play. KP never got into the English way of playing (read: boring and predictable), but the others probably will.

    But this sore point is, and rightly so, a sensitive issue for English fans, your reaction to the issue (confirmed by you responding twice) underlines this fact unarguably.

    It is, again rightly, the cause of mock and alarm for other countries when they assess an English cricket lineup. It is what it is. It's not naive to point out the fact that, at times, more than half the team was born elsewhere - you can't be naive for pointing out facts.

    I'm pleased this England/Ireland/South African mish-mash won last night as I had a multi-bet on them winning.

    What they really need is a spinner, so I'd recommend appointing a panel that scours Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan for talent whereby the talent has a UK p'port.

  • ADARSH100 on March 27, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Dhoni, Kohli, Raina hit Malinga for sixes. Indians know how to tackle Malinga than any other teams. Even Malinga said its hard to bowl to Dhoni and Kohli.

  • mohammed-ismail on March 27, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I'm predicting a 5 wicket win for England.

  • Great_Chucker on March 27, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    SL has been lucky with toss ,they will be pulverized if they bowl second as their mediocre bowlers will be found wanting

  • SKoshi. on March 27, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    @mohammed-ismail, SL getting through to the semis by FLUKE, get real brother. By far Sri Lanka is much better than most of these teams and they have shown it again and again. We play as a team and don't just hope for someone to come in and go Boom Boom to with his eyes closed to win a match. So Pakistan beating SL, well think again dude. If i could recall correctly recently we have shown Pakistan a thing or two in how to play cricket correctly and win. I am sure that you are still hurt with the Asia Cup defeat, well get ready for another.

  • NAD_SL on March 27, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    @mohammed-ismail

    If SL win the cup this time, will you still think that 'Inshaallah' thingy helps you or your team?

    No, Its Hardwork that matters and Sri Lankans are hard workers, period.

  • ksquared on March 27, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    well mr mohammed-ismail it is not SL that need a reality check it is ur team PAK got thrashed by IND and lost twice to SL in the asia cup nearly lost to AUS after scoring 190 odd I won't be surprised if the Windies give u a hiding!!!!!

  • mohammed-ismail on March 27, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Today England is going to win and give these arrogant SL fans a reality check. At present SL is simply an overrated team. Inshallah, England will thrash Srilanka today & next NZ will also win against SL. If somehow by FLUKE SL enter semis, then Pakistan will thrash SL. This is going to happen Inshaallah.

  • CodandChips on March 27, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    @SoyQuearns continuing on, you mention New Zealand so are referring to Stokes. So the fact he's lived here since 12, and as a result has become a geordie not good enough? Listen to his accent, look at his behavior. Also how much of his cricket would he have learnt in primary school? Arguably he has more right to choose England than choose NewZealand.

  • on March 27, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    srilankan players are hard worker and knows the value of team work .England does not have their combination right .perry should be in team .bopara and moeen ali in top 3. . they can drop hales as he is not in his touch.or put bell as an opener with ali at no. 3 and bopara on4 .followed by morgan,buttler ,stokes..

  • CodandChips on March 27, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    @Dani16 Guptill is one of the best T20I players around so him doing something isn't a great indicator for anybody else.

    @Harish Kumar comparison between Sharma and Bopara is interesting. Both have been in their country's side for a long time. Both have been in and out the side and up and down the order. Both appeared finally settled in 2013, but then towards the end of the year and start of 2014 began to frustrate again. But Sharma is a much better player (he generally looks more comfortable than Bopara while at the grease and scores more runs). So while your comparison is good, it's not great, unlike a comparison I saw between Shane Watson and Marmite.

    @SoyQuearns well there's always someone with something naive to say re birth places of English players. So you believe that birthplace is the only mitigating factor in a person's nationality? You must believe that, given you mention KP (therefore parentage and the fact he had a british passport from birth isn't good enough)

  • Sandjay on March 27, 2014, 5:51 GMT

    Sri lanka producing most talented players compare with india.india have very large population but they produced only few good players..i think sri lanka have borne talant for cricket...

  • on March 27, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    @gihan abeyratne--dont forget India chased down 300+ in less than 40 overs in aus ...malinga was hit by virat all over the park..all are humans bro...nobody comes from heaven...anything can happen in sports...so pls!!!!!

  • on March 27, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    In India we have Rohit Sharma...For England they got Bopara...

  • Dani16 on March 27, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    First ball six against Malinga? Martin Guptill has done it during the T20 World Cup. (2009 or 2010) A text book lofted straight drive. So to conclude, that's hard; but not impossible. Not for all at the least...!

  • on March 27, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Pulkit Gupta - in the practice Game i think Virat try to hit a 6 off Malinga with his eyes close, that's why he lost his off stump

  • notimeforcricket on March 27, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    he will deflect Malinga for 1 and let his batting partner take him on!

  • notimeforcricket on March 27, 2014, 4:41 GMT

    seems to me we are a bowler heavy and a batsman light. i would put Bell into the top 4 somewhere meaning Morgan, Butler, Bopara and 5, 6 7 (in any order but probably in that order). I am pretty sure that with Ali, Bopara plus 4 main bowlers we can get through the overs. As far as i can tell, unless you have a Steyn or a Malinga the slow/medium bowelrs are just as effective so I am not sure I see the value of picking people like Dernbach who gets hit around the park and contributes nothing with the bat. Broad, Bresnan and Jordan will get smashed all over the park but might at least hit some boundaries to make up for it

  • SoyQuearns on March 27, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Bopara may have to face a lot more balls than the 15-20 he theorised about in his conference. England are woeful at t20 lately.

    In fact, they are woeful in all formats lately. They've plumbed the cupboards of Eng, Ire, SAF and NZ to build their side, as they have done for years now, and haven't come up with anything close to resembling a KP.

    And when they were gifted a KP they hung him out to dry for having an opinion, which strays greatly from their preference of manufacturing these grey, dull and predictable drones who speak in that same non-committal, boring, politically-influenced way.

    New faces like Ali look very promising, even as an Aussie I can concede that, he bats beautifully and bowls handily. I've monitored his progress for the last, say, 3 or so years and am pleased he got picked. That means the selection panel is, relatively speaking, on the pulse.

    Root is, for the moment, hugely overrated and Stokes barely hit a ball off the square in the WI recently. Who will rise?

  • checkOnCricket on March 27, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    He is always been an integral part of england and has always scored when england needed him. Nowadays he started contributing with the ball as well. Such a great contributor to the team. No matter even if he doesn't hit sixes still he will be respected.

  • VinothSam on March 27, 2014, 3:19 GMT

    When he gets out in the first ball, hoe can he hit a six? Play well mate. Looking forward to see some sixes as you expect. It is SL they are playing against so he needs to be more consistent.

  • Maiyaboy on March 27, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    Dreaming is good.One day it will become a reality.(Hope that day will come before the end of his cricketing career.Keep on dreaming.....

  • on March 27, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    I think Sri lanka might lose both games against ENG and NZ and will be out of tournament.

  • on March 27, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    hahaa you are kidding me Bopara.......... may be on a nother day! good luck by the way!

  • kiwiwarrior on March 27, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    england will get hammered.

  • on March 27, 2014, 0:01 GMT

    Dinesh Chandimal, you cant hit a six of Malinga however virat kohli can hit him for a six with his eyes closed! Malinga is a quality bowler and only the best (kohli) can take him apart at will.

  • rahsun on March 26, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    There are certain things which only certain people can do. If you want to toy with Malinga, leave it to Kohli and sit back and watch the show. He will show you how to hit sixes at will in the same way like Yuvi did with Broad.

  • on March 26, 2014, 22:51 GMT

    I have been lying in my bed at times and thought: why don't I just hit the first ball for six? Ravi Bopara

    He must have fallen into a deep sleep dreaming. Dream on my friend.

  • on March 26, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    Here we go again. You always find a fool in every team don't you. Talk is cheap but sixes are hard to come by. The way we have been playing Bopara should learn to keep his remarks to himself and prove it when he is in the middle. We are just fed up all this hype before the games and end up loosing every time. We have not got our 11 sorted out yet nor the best person to captain the team. Aggression and big talk do not win matches.

  • SevereCritic on March 26, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    The complexion and prospects of the English T20 side would have been so different if one person was present - you-know-who. As such, most of the English, except Morgan (but then he is Irish) is clueless against spin.

  • Moz. on March 26, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    i can confidently predict that Bopara will clear the rope... as he trudges back to the pavilion having holed out at long-on.

  • SL_Boy on March 26, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    the problem in this Srilankan team ... except Chandi every one can win a Match ... if he fires god knows

  • dewey on March 26, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    Bopara is from big 3. I am sure he can hit six after six. SL is going to learn a lesson tomorrow.

  • jerryman on March 26, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Looking forward to the 6s .. hoping he would not break the record # of 6s like the Netherlands-Ireland game.. At least if it rains the Barmy army can sing its raining sixers , instead of its raining men.. halleluiah.. Good luck Ravi

  • CodandChips on March 26, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    "The good news is that Ravi Bopara has been dreaming of hitting sixes"- who knows, maybe one day he'll hit one. A bit harsh perhaps, but too many times his batting has put too much pressure on others. Has become a very handy bowler mind

  • on March 26, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    Theorizing is the easy part of match planning, Master Bopara. Facing the Slinga in real time is no easy task. I'm rooting for the Lions as always, but best of luck to both teams, and may the best team (Sri Lanka :P ) win.

  • on March 26, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    Best wishes to England..

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on March 26, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    Best wishes to England..

  • on March 26, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    Theorizing is the easy part of match planning, Master Bopara. Facing the Slinga in real time is no easy task. I'm rooting for the Lions as always, but best of luck to both teams, and may the best team (Sri Lanka :P ) win.

  • CodandChips on March 26, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    "The good news is that Ravi Bopara has been dreaming of hitting sixes"- who knows, maybe one day he'll hit one. A bit harsh perhaps, but too many times his batting has put too much pressure on others. Has become a very handy bowler mind

  • jerryman on March 26, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Looking forward to the 6s .. hoping he would not break the record # of 6s like the Netherlands-Ireland game.. At least if it rains the Barmy army can sing its raining sixers , instead of its raining men.. halleluiah.. Good luck Ravi

  • dewey on March 26, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    Bopara is from big 3. I am sure he can hit six after six. SL is going to learn a lesson tomorrow.

  • SL_Boy on March 26, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    the problem in this Srilankan team ... except Chandi every one can win a Match ... if he fires god knows

  • Moz. on March 26, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    i can confidently predict that Bopara will clear the rope... as he trudges back to the pavilion having holed out at long-on.

  • SevereCritic on March 26, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    The complexion and prospects of the English T20 side would have been so different if one person was present - you-know-who. As such, most of the English, except Morgan (but then he is Irish) is clueless against spin.

  • on March 26, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    Here we go again. You always find a fool in every team don't you. Talk is cheap but sixes are hard to come by. The way we have been playing Bopara should learn to keep his remarks to himself and prove it when he is in the middle. We are just fed up all this hype before the games and end up loosing every time. We have not got our 11 sorted out yet nor the best person to captain the team. Aggression and big talk do not win matches.

  • on March 26, 2014, 22:51 GMT

    I have been lying in my bed at times and thought: why don't I just hit the first ball for six? Ravi Bopara

    He must have fallen into a deep sleep dreaming. Dream on my friend.