Bopara is still not the answer

There has been a suggestion that Ravi Bopara has secured the number six spot in the Tests with his 117* against Yorkshire today. It was a good innings, Essex only made a total of 199, but it is still not a reason to pick him to play at six.

First off, it does not change Bopara’s terrible Test stats. As I have noted previously, Bopara’s batting average against teams other than the West Indies is a dismal 15. Going by the same criteria (ie, throwing out Tests against the West Indies) that average fits neatly between Jimmy Anderson’s 13 and Graeme Swann’s 18. That’s good enough for a specialist bowler, it is not good enough for someone who has one Test wicket for 212 runs. There is no reason to suspect that if we give him another chance now it will be any different from all the previous chances we have given him. He can get runs against the Windies, but we need to pick someone who will succeed against South Africa too. There is no reason to suspect that Bopara will do that.

It is important to remember that Bopara’s innings, whilst good, was in the second division. In their only other match, Yorkshire conceded over 500 in the first innings against Kent. One hundred seventeen is a good fightback when part of 199, but the fact is that it is an innings against a bowling attack that is not special. He played a good innings in difficult circumstances against a mediocre attack in the second division. That does not at all indicate a reversal of his absolutely terrible Test form.

That innings was not even the best in this round of matches. Chris Read played a much better innings for Nottinghamshire, his hundred was ten times the score of the next best batsman. It was out of a tally of 162 and it was in the first division. Also in the first division, Rikki Clarke scored 140 after coming in with Warwickshire 81-7. Darren Maddy also scored what was for me an incredibly frustrating century in that match and they have probably ensured their side cannot lose from a position where they looked very likely to lose. As I type this, Nick Compton has scored his second century of the season to go with his 99 in the first match of the year. He leads the first division in runs, average and balls faced by a huge amount and that is with the incredibly bowling friendly conditions around the country so far.

I am very much in favour of the selectors looking at runs in the County Championship, but Bopara has failed so often he must not be given any special preference over other batsmen and he has demonstrably not been the best of those batsmen. There remains no rational argument to pick Bopara.

2 thoughts on “Bopara is still not the answer

  1. All fine points, and no doubt James Taylor or some other batsman will play against the West Indies ahead of Bopara.

    Worth pointing out though that of the bowlers he scored his hundred against today, 3 have test bowling averages of less than 30.


    1. That’s true, but Shahzad has only played in one Test and that was against Bangladesh a few years ago and McGrath only bowled in only two Test innings (15 overs in total) in 2003. Neither are really Test bowlers, whilst Sidebottom is still fairly good, but past his best.


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