sports gazette

Bopara must fulfil potential in 2014

© Simon Collings
Published: 20 May 2014

It has so far been a career of unfulfillment and what might have been for Ravi Bopara. A player with immense talent, who on his day is capable of some spectacular shots, has failed as of yet to live up to the hype surrounding him as a youngster.

It was in 2005 that he first came to many people’s attention. Australia were in the middle of a challenging Ashes Tour in England and prior to the fifth Test the visitors played a two-day match against Essex.

The game ended in a draw, with both sides scoring over 500 runs. However, most interesting of all, was the two batsmen who shone at Chelmsford during the encounter.

Two 20-year-old English youngsters, beginning to make name for themselves - Alastair Cook and Bopara.

Cook notched up a double hundred against the Australians, cementing the belief that he was an undoubted star of the future. A few days earlier he had been crowned PCA Young Cricketer of the Year.

Bopara though, was just as impressive. Like Cook, he was just 20-years-old at the time and his century in that match v the Australians showed glimpses of the quality stroke-play he is capable of.

The bowling attack the pair faced was no slouch either. Brett Lee, Jason Gillepie, Shaun Tait and Michael Kasprowicz made up a fearsome quartet for Bopara and Cook to deal with.

If we look at the careers of Bopara and Cook from that moment, it is fair to say that the two have gone in different directions.

An individual gets distracted only if he allows himself to be distracted, so it is in hands.

Cook has gone on to become England captain, playing over 100 Tests for his country. He now also holds the record for the most Test centuries for England, scoring 25 tons.

Bopara’s career path tells a different story, only 13 tests appearances and, while he may have notched up three hundreds in those matches, they all came in 2009 against a struggling West Indies team.

The one-day scene does paint a different picture to be fair. The 29-year-old has made 102 appearances for his country, averaging 32.49.

It is good, but not what was dreamed of when Bopara first emerged.

The key question is, where does he go from here? If you read the introduction to this piece again, you will see the phrases ‘so far’ and ‘as of yet’ are used. There is still time for Bopara.

This summer represents a huge point in the Essex man’s career.

With no Kevin Pietersen in the England squad and Peter Moores appointed as the new coach, there is the opportunity for players to make an impact.

Bopara batted at number five in England’s opening game of the season, a rain affected one-day match with Scotland.

Limited time at the crease, as the game was coming to an end, saw him score only three runs, but it is a position in the order he may find himself in the upcoming matches against Sri Lanka.

The great Sachin Tendulkar once said that Bopara had “the talent to do something special”. But even more poignantly he added: “An individual gets distracted only if he allows himself to be distracted, so it is in hands.”

That is the case for Bopara, the talent is there, it always has been. Now is the time for him to show it.

^ Back to top ^