I once played against Ravi Bopara in an Evening Standard cup game at Barnes. He was at that stage breaking through Essex CC’s 2nd XI. He made a low score, caught down the leg side, but Hainault & Clayhall Cricket Club still racked up nearly 300 (short boundaries at Barnes) and we replied with 180ish. I, like Ravi, made a low score
Last night, Ravi – obviously much the better player after his trip to SW13 – was the star turn in a World Cup match against Sri Lanka that England should have won. England bowled well and fielded well, but we did not bat well enough as a unit. KP was excellent before becoming overly ambitious against Murali. Bopara and Nixon (what a reverse sweep by the way!) were top drawer, and almost rescued what had become a lost cause.
It is difficult to know whether to blame anyone. Vaughan was unlucky, Bell perhaps even more so, and I am not qualified to comment on the dismissals of Flintoff, Collingwood and Joyce. I am desperate for England to perform well, however the top order has to start scoring big runs, and not leave all the runs (and extra pressure) to the likes of Pietersen and Collingwood, who will not rescue England every time. Mind you, it would have been interesting to see what a great finisher like Michael Bevan would have done in Pietersen’s shoes though. One would assume he would have seen Murali off and not sought to finish the game quite so quickly.
I will be intrigued to see whether Strauss gets drafted in – he performed well in the Windies last time, although not quite so well in Australia. He may be an option for Joyce – who needs to regain the aggression he displayed in against the top sides in Australia – however it is Vaughan’s form with the bat that is a major worry. Vaughan has not passed 50 in ODIs since 7 July 2005.
Finally, here’s a thing. StatsGuru from Cricinfo reveals that in the 18 ODI games in which Vaughan has opened the batting, he averages 16.11 and has passed fifty only once. Batting at three (44 times), he averages 32.66 and has passed 50 on 11 occasions. Oh for Mal Loye.