By Guest Author.
With more than 70 ODI caps to his name, you can no longer call Ravi Bopara a novice in the international game.
However, if you ask those who regularly see him train or play for his County, they will tell you that we have not yet seen the best of the 27-year-old on the world stage. He has all the attributes and technical ability required to challenge at the very top, both with the bat and with the ball.
But, while the selectors have seen him as a Test player in the making, there is something about pulling on a white England shirt that causes him to lose form. His 72 ODI caps compared to just 12 Test matches spread over five years is evidence of this.
Now, of course, the jump from domestic to international cricket is a significant one, but, for a player with such skill, it was frustrating to see him fail to replicate his domestic achievements in Tests.
However, his form in the recent one-day series with Australia suggests Bopara is finally starting to believe he belongs in the England side, raising hopes that he will take that into the upcoming Test series with South Africa.
Bopara averaged 91 with the bat throughout the 4-0 rout, including a match winning 82 at the Oval in the second game, as well as taking four wickets in the crucial middle stages of the Australia innings.
It is not before time, but a confidence appears to have gripped Bopara that has finally allowed him to fulfill his potential. However, proof of that will only be found in his performances against a far superior South Africa side, later this month.
"The lad's a talented performer," said England coach Graham Gooch. "He's had a lot of chances, been in and out, done well at times and struggled at times. "I think he's finding himself now, he's maturing with age. He's not old - the prime for a batsman is 25 to 35 and he's 27.”
By Guest Author.