Ravi Bopara: England's nearly man comes to life
After an an up-and-down England career, can Bopara finally hold down a place in the team?
Ravi Bopara - a guy who often has been mirabile dictu when it comes to those players who have come in the team and have gone out of the team as many times as you can think.
Born on May 4 in 1985 at Forest Gate, the Essex cricketer gained his education from Brampton Manor School. After playing for Frenford Clubs and representing Essex Boys and Girls Clubs, Bopara finally made his first-class debut for Essex in May 2002.
'The Mallet of Everlasting Righteousness' as he is known made his England debut in February 2007 after Kevin Pietersen got injured.
The journey to this side wasn’t easy at all.
He gave regular performances that could be termed as brilliant and still had to wait for five years.
As soon as he entered the team, the process of going in and out started. His Test debut in Sri Lanka was egregious as he got three ducks and was dropped.
Again, he was selected in 2008-09 and finally did he make a mark. This time, Bopara got three consecutive centuries against the Caribbean Kings West Indies - becoming the fifth English batsman to achieve the feat.
But he could not hold on to his staggering form and did poorly in the 2009 Ashes Series which forced the selectors to drop him out yet again.
It was just that England shirt that got him out of form. He never did badly for Essex and that confused the ECB whether to take him or not.
Once more did he get selected for the English squad to tour South Africa for the Champions Trophy 2009 but didn't play for the next ten months.
The Natwest Series against India in 2011 saw him become the leading run scorer for England as he scored 197 runs in four matches, which included a career best 96 at Lord’s.
He had done just enough in this series and therefore got selected for the next ODI series in India.
Though he did poorly in that series like the rest of the team, he got into the squad for the 2012 Tour To UAE.
There, in the ODI series, he got consecutive fifties and eventually got rested for the next 2 ODIs. His excellent form continued in the following T20 series as well.
Redoubtable Bopara was selected for the Test series against the Proteas but he successfully held on to his tradition of going out of the team for the rest of the Test series.
Luckily enough, he got back into the ODI squad and he was even bad, rather worse (not with the ball though).
No solution did the ECB have to his problem of culminating the process of performing inconsistently for the English team.
One thing always remained common though, all the performances that Bopara gave were under immense pressure which showed his quality of being mensch. Though, Cricket doesn’t see qualities to a good extent but performances.
Now came the year 2013. The year that can well be termed as the ‘Turning Point’ of the London born guy.
As he got selected for the Champions Trophy 2013, many gave the decision a lot of criticism but no one did know that what’ll he do would prove out to be excellent. Bopara left no stone unhurled this time and got figures including: 46*(37), 34*(14), 30(25) and not just with the bat was he spectacular but took over six wickets in the tournament.
Enough was this for him to be in the T20 series against the Black Caps and the ODI series against the Aussies as well as one-off ODI against Ireland.
A 229-run record partnership against Ireland, 46 against the Aussies in the T20 at Rose Bowl, a 50 in the last ODI of the series against the very same team in which only three ODIs were played was what he got after he was selected and now, he has got what he and his fans wanted - England's ODI Player of the Year.
Yes! You are seeing it right! His pristine form in his golden year 2013 has earned him such a big award and he is now seen as one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball.
Where he goes from here is anyone's guess but it looks as though the only way is up for England's nearly man.
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