Posted by: nestaquin | August 5, 2008

Is Ravi the Man for the Job?

Yesterday afternoon in the twilight zone between English captains I received the piece below from my old mate, Lee Calvert, former editor of the now dormant The Googly, and presently the chief of the excellent Rugby website Blood and Mud.

We now know that Ravi Bopara was the man chosen to replace the retreating former skipper but was it the wisest decision? Below are a list of worthy contenders with the notable exception of Owais Shah. Did the selectors get it right? Who will bat at three? Does Lee still have concussion after he was mauled in the ruck last weekend? I’m half a world away so get typing and enlighten the crew and readers at 99.94 with your considered opinion.

The King is Dead, Long Live the Bloke Who Bats in his Place.

While the media and blogosphere somehow manage to fill many column inches not really arguing about who will be England’s next captain, there is another question that they are ignoring: Who will replace MP Vaughan in the side? Let’s take a look at the candidates.

The Obvious Choices

Ravi Bopara – Currently averaging 52 in the County Championship (for what that is worth), the Essex all-rounder has been batting his eyelids and flirting with the Test side since his ill-fated debut in Sri Lanka last winter. Offers a decent bowling option also, but is he ready for the mental test of batting up the order? Some of his shot selections are still slightly baffling; alloy this to the undesirable knack of getting himself involved in a lot of run outs and it may spell trouble. The talent is undoubted, and if brought in he must be treated as what the Aussies would call a “project cricketer” – stick with him and the class will out.

Rob Key – Everyone’s favourite Kent pie-muncher has been in rare form, averaging 55 for 2008. An average of 31 in his 15 Test appearance sums up perfectly his potential and frustration – he tended to get out when appearing to be set. However, he has applied himself to addressing his issues (his appetite for hard work is often overlooked), and a 178 for Kent against the touring Kiwis highlights his obvious ability. A natural opener, he would be tailor-made to solve the issue at No 3 more readily that Bopara.

The Outsiders

Paul Horton – The 25-year-old has been and absolute colossus for Lancashire since he nailed down his place in the side in 2007. Averaging 63 for the 2008 season and nearly 50 for his career, the Aussie-born opener could continue the England tradition of their best batsmen not actually being English.

Michael Carberry – Impressed on the Lions tours in the winter and the Hampshire opener has been on the periphery of the selectors’ sights since. Hampered by a poor start to the season, averaging just 21; but then so was Vaughan when he was first selected.

Vikram Solanki – England’s perennial one-day supersub has come of age this year at the tender age of 32. Scored 270 in his last match for Worcestershire, and has a new maturity about him since the county appointed him captain in recent years

The Rank Outsiders

Jim Troughton – Played a few one-day games a few years back, the left-hander then faded from the Warwickshire team, only to reappear recently in stunning form – clobbering his way to an average of 63 this year. Has the added advantage of being a fabulous fielder.

Billy Godleman – The extremely classy young Middlesex left-hander will play for England one day, but at 19-years-old, and in the middle of a largely indifferent season (av. 25) it is probably too early.


  1. I should have mentioned in the piece that I did not include Shah as there was more chance of me being called up than him. For some reason the selectors do not want him, that much is obvious. Shame.

    In response, and perhaps to prove a point, he clubbed an unbeaten ton last night in the PRo40 league

  2. Feel sorry for Shah – I really do. But on the other hand, I am pleased for Ravi. I also agree that he should be given a run in the side now, he will deliver the goods. I’m sure of that.

    As for the number three slot, it has got to go to Ian Bell for the Oval test match. Give him more responsibility and he might start becoming more consistent. No use throwing Bopara in at three in my opinion.

    So the line up for the Ovalwill be:

    Broad / Sidebottom / Harmison

  3. Thomas,

    Agree re: Bell. He now has to prove he has the ability to bat in what should be the natural home for someone with his technique, so he can show if he can cut it. (personally I don’t think he can, mentally, but he needs a chance to prove it).

    Sidebottom looks unfit to me. I’d have Broad in as he needs more practice bowling at decent bats, particularly on a wicket as flat as The Oval. This is a dead rubber, so he’ll never have a better chance to hone his skills.

  4. Ravi is too good a cricketer to fail for long. SL away is about as tough as it gets, and shouldn’t be held against him.

    Bell at three to prove himself or be shipped out.

  5. Agree that Bopara shouldn’t be judged on Sri Lanka away. He starts a fresh now. Although having said that, its one test in England then the tour of India to come so it doesn’t get any easier for Ravi! I really hope he makes it as he can be a very valuable cricketer to England.

    As for Bell, I think he can bat at three. He has the most sublime technique and is probably one of the most frustrating batsman I have ever seen play for England. Come on Bell – start to deliver the goods. I believe you can do it.

  6. Kevin Pietersen doesn’t have faith in Ravi or the selectors who chose him. Ravi is 12th man, Flintoff is batting at 6 and Harmison and Broad are playing.

    The team for the fourth Test is:

    1 Alastair Cook
    2 Andrew Strauss
    3 Ian Bell
    4 Kevin Pietersen (capt)
    5 Paul Collingwood
    6 Andrew Flintoff
    7 Tim Ambrose (wk)
    8 Stuart Broad
    9 Steve Harmison
    10 James Anderson
    11 Monty Panesar

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