A flamboyant batsman who can play in the top or middle order, Ravinder (Ravi) Bopara is one of England’s bright prospects for the future. With three hundreds (all against the West Indies) in only six Test matches, England selectors hope that he can fill the troublesome Number 3 position for England.
Born in London, England on May 4th, 1985, Bopara showed early promise. He even earned a professional contract with English County side Essex in 2002 at age 17. Bopara made it through the England ranks, playing with the youth teams and England’s ‘B’ side-English Lions- before making his Test debut against Sri Lanka in December 2007. His debut Test series was rather poor, belying his promise.
Bopara remained on the fringes of England selection for a year and a half until he was summoned to the West Indies because of an injury to Andrew Flintoff. He scored a First-class century in his first match of that tour and played in the next Test match against the West Indies at Bridgetown. It was at Bridgetown, Barbados that Bopara scored his maiden Test century.
Although selectors hope that Bopara can be the Number Three that they have sought for some time, he has his flaws. One could hardly describe his century against the West Indies at Lord’s as chance-less. He benefited from the umpire’s generosity on one occasion and West Indies’ profligacy in the field. Like many young players, Bopara often plays the ball in the air and likes to play shots.
Bopara’s first three Test centuries were scored against an indifferent West Indian attack. He made two of those three centuries on placid pitches as well. Bopara will more than likely be found wanting against stronger opposition.
Bopara has all-round ability, being a good fielder and part-time medium-pace bowler. His bowling is used more often in the shorter forms of the game. It is likely that England view Bopara as a potential all-rounder. With some work on his bowling, he can reach the level of Andrew Flintoff. Ravi Bopara’s strength is clearly his batting, however.
The IPL’s Kings XI Punjab contracted Bopara’s services for the 2009 IPL season. Bopara’s attacking instinct makes him an exciting prospect and gives him the potential to be a destructive batsman in all forms of the game. He is still developing and even though his performances against the West Indies were encouraging, it needs to be considered in context.
The West Indies are not the world-beaters that they once were and were clearly not interested in the two-Test series against England, where Bopara scored back-to-back centuries. Even so, he scored three consecutive Test centuries, which is no mean feat. If Bopara can reproduce this form against better opponents like South Africa, India and Australia, then cricket pundits may consider him a genuine top-order batsman.