Bopara puts himself in the frame to replace Flintoff
Therefore, every so often, there is a debate about who should play the ‘Flintoff role’ when he isn’t there. In other words, who should replace him for the two test matches against the West Indies that start next month?
Well, one man has put himself firmly in the frame thanks to some excellent form in the Indian Premier League. Essex’s Ravi Bopara has been in top form for Kings XI Punjab and recently smashed 84 from 59 balls against Kevin Pietersen’s Bangalore Royal Challengers.
You may remember that in Bopara’s last test for England he managed to notch a century, only to be dropped in favour of an extra bowler for the following match. This, combined with his IPL form, could mean that he gets a place in the side for the first test at Lords.
Speaking about the possibility of replacing Flintoff, Bopara said that he is ‘definitely eyeing up that No.6 spot’. Then, if he manages to achieve this, he will set his sights on ‘moving up the order’.
Bopara has been rather unlucky during his international career to date because he hasn’t batted in his preferred position very often at all. Instead of coming in at No.3, he has either had to open the innings or come in down the order.
For now though, the No.6 position suits him and there is every chance he will get the nod to replace Flintoff. He is probably one of the most in-form English players right now and would add some much needed flair to the batting line-up.
There are question marks over his bowling, but he needs to be given the chance to prove himself in this department. As yet, he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to shine for England with the ball.
The announcement about the England squad will be made on Wednesday with Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell joining Bopara in keeping a very close eye on proceedings. This is my cricket prediction for the team for the first test against West Indies.
Harmison (other options?)
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket