Harris Sportsthoughts

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Posts Tagged ‘ravi bopara

Kevin Pietersen Opens Up

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I think we were all surprised to wake up the other day to see Kevin Pietersen stick his face above the parapet and allow Canuck emigres to hurl shiny white balls at it. Partly because previously Pietersen has proved resistant to a posting any higher than the No.4, preferring to lurk cravenly in the cosier surroundings of the middle order. And partly because it represents a shift from the meticulous scheming that has become the modus operandi for the Flower-Strauss management axis.

What should be added is that Eoin Morgan‘s shattered finger shook the kaleidoscope, and now the batting plans are now in flux. Besides, eleventh-hour selectorial shambles are almost a tradition in England World Cup campaigns. It creates a feeling so familiar and warm you could toast your teacakes on it.

Early signs indicate tentatively that the gamble may pay off. And apart from anything else it neatly merges the KP dilemma and the opener dilemma into one slightly bigger uber-dilemma. It’s one less dilemma to worry about.

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Written by harrisharrison

February 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The Fifteenth Man

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I don’t think I’m going to pass comment on cricket any more. I will certainly abstain from making any predictions. On Thursday evening I described England as ‘a bit shit’. Today they won the Ashes. I guess I’ll just write stuff about how massive Shane Watson’s ass is or ponder on whether Bob Willis is actually a horrible old woman.

One thing I will say about today is that we should all spare a thought for Ravi Bopara. I heard both Steve Harmison and Andy Flower refer to the fourteen men who had won England back the Ashes. Fourteen? Okay. So there were the eleven on the pitch at the Oval. And Graham Onions, Monty Panesar and Kevin Pieter Pietersen in attendance to join the party and collect their medallions. That’s fourteen. But just because Bopara wasn’t actually there doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist any more. It seems that not only has he been dropped but also wiped from the memory bank like Kate Winslet in The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Admittedly Bopara did not make much of an impact on the series. But…er…remember that 36 he scored in the first innings at Cardiff? It took vital time out of the game which proved crucial later on. Massive straw-clutch. Don’t care. Give that man a medallion.

The Geoff Miller’s Tale

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The fact that Geoff Miller revealed that he is not ruling anyone out in his selection of the England squad for the final Ashes test at the Oval suggests that he has his ruler out and some general rulage will ensue. Which spells trouble for the encumbent eleven particularly the middle order and even more particularly Ravi Bopara who looks like he might be on the sharp end of Miller’s ruler.

I assuming that Miller’s announcement is a slight overstatement. I’m guessing that I’ve been ruled out for instance. Which leaves us a few candidates. The most obvious pick is Jonathon Trott, who made the last squad. The brilliant advantage of Trott is that he is South African and therefore not “flat and lazy” like most of his would-be team-mates. Justin Langer does know everything after all. And Trott is, by all accounts I’ve heard, something of a arrogant nob which is an excellent quality to possess to take on these Aussies.

Among the other names that Miller may be flicking through his Rolodex for is Robert Key. His is a cultish popularity unlike any other I can think of, largely based on the fact that he is quite tubby and smokes to stop himself sweating before he bats and seems like a thoroughly decent chap. But this season for Kent has been a microcosm of his test career: mainly underachieving apart from an anomalous double century against inferior opposition. But Shane Warne likes him and that counts for a lot apparently. 

Mark Ramprakash is another cricketer who never managed to pin test cricket against a wall and tell it who was in charge. But he remains one of a small crew of England cricketers whose average against Australia is higher than his overall test figure: 42.40 no less. And he is on form. That is an understatement. He is on form, in form, around form, by form, through form. Mark Ramprakash is form. And if you can look Bruno Tonioli in the eye and survive to tell the tale then Mitchell Johnson should hold no fear.

I’m assuming that Trott will win over the sentimental lobby and get the call. Almost certainly in place of Bopara but I would prefer to see Ian Bell relegated again. Justin Langer thinks Bopara is a very good batsman. And Justin does know everything.

Written by harrisharrison

August 10, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Be Cool Ravi

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Ravi Bopara is definitely a man who cares about how cool he appears. But he may as well take to the field in a black leather jacket and stonewashed denim because I think he is getting it wrong. I can understand that this affected aspect might be employed as a coping mechanism for the intensity of Ashes cricket. But he’s gone too far.

The only equivalent I can summon up from my personal archive is when you go drunkenly go home after a night out and your parents are still up watching Newsnight Review. The pains that you go to to emphasise your sobriety can lead to a strange robotic politeness and an uncharacteristic interest your parent’s affairs. And you end up looking more pissed than if you’d stripped naked and vomited on the front doormat.

And so Bopara appears the most perturbed of all England batsmen. And his technique seems languid and irregular. Maybe in fact he’s been playing too much of this addictive little game: the similarities between the tiny pixellated batsmen and England’s No.3 are striking. You can play it too now.

Cool.

Written by harrisharrison

August 8, 2009 at 9:09 am

The Future’s Not Bright, It’s Orange

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England vs Holland was always going to be a classic. If we were playing football. We weren’t expecting similar entertainment in the opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 Championship.

But they’ll be dancing in the streets of Amsterdam tonight after a splendid performance by the Dutch cricketers squeezed out England, hurtling through for the two runs they needed off the last ball of the game.

England started well having been inserted, but for the last nine overs of their innings looked as if they were batting with those little plastic bats you can buy in petrol stations. Not a single six was smote during the entire 20 overs as the middle order carelessly nurdled away the advantage that Luke Wright and Ravi Bopara had accrued in the earlier overs. England thought they had more than enough with a smug total of 162.   

And if England had fielded properly then the Dutch may have fallen short. But they contrived to assemble an embarrassing gallery of missed opportunities, which culminated spectacularly in the final over when Stuart Broad must have broken some kind of record by flunking three run-out chances and dropping a catch.

England do employ a fielding coach. His name is Richard Halsall. I am not sure what the ECB are paying him, but on the evidence of this display, it’s too much. He must have been tempted to throw himself off the dressing room balcony. Maybe one of the members could have caught him to show him how it’s done.

Not too many complaints can be made about England’s frontline seamers, but Adil Rashid looked out of his depth among the puddles – he is only fourteen years old, bless him – and in hindsight seems like an optimistic replacement for Andrew Flintoff. The selection debate for this tournament and this game will continue. Even ‘Too Nice’ Nick Knight was bashing his fists against the glass facade of the Lords Media Centre. The dissections will abound in the newspapers tomorrow – with more eloquence than this blog could ever muster.

So I will end with the heartiest of congratulations to the Dutch. They bowled well, fielded well and ultimately batted well. I think that is what is called total cricket.

Written by harrisharrison

June 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Just Like Watching Last Of The Summer Wine

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So Kevin Pietersen is tired. Well Kevin, I’m tired too. Tired of watching the same game of cricket over and over again.

Watching England’s one day side over the last fifteen years or so is like watching Last of the Summer Wine. The cast changes, but the plot remains stolidly the same. It’s just three old men in a bath going slowly downhill.

I’m tired of the constant look of bewilderment on Andrew Strauss’ face. He opens the batting with a Clegg-like dynamism.  But he has my sympathy. His first tour has been a particularly trying one what with the tribuations of referrals, flat pitches, declarations and Steve Harmison. Strauss is the man to lead England into the Ashes series this summer, but someone should give him this little suggestion: at least pretend to look like you know what you’re doing.

And then Bopara. Compo. The iconoclast. Actually scrub that. I’m getting tired of this analogy. But not as tired as I am of England’s one-day performances. Even when they contrive to win it’s dull.

The reason I mention the openers is because they set the tone for the rest of the innings and, when they bat first, the bowlers. It’s like some wonky version of collective responsibility: if one of the team underperforms, then we’re all allowed to underperform.

Ultimately I’m tired of ranting. Every time I look in the mirror I look a little bit more like Bob Willis. And I’m tired because I wasted my Friday night watching this familiar drivel. When I could have been out. Or in. Probably in actually.

Written by harrisharrison

March 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

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