It never rains it pours: just as it looks like Bopara might get a test recall, England contemplate tinkering with the balance of the side
Attention. This is not a drill. According to Andrew Strauss, England might actually pick five bowlers in Sri Lanka. After years of doing a Margaret Thatcher impression (the strategy’s not for turning) it looks like the selectors might finally budge. Why? Because they don’t seem to have much faith in Ravi Bopara I’m afraid.
The six batsman philosophy went rather well against Australia, Sri Lanka and India last year. However, Eoin Morgan’s struggle against Pakistan’s spinners has necessitated a change.
To be fair to Morgan, he didn’t struggle more than Paul Collingwood did at various stages of his career, but his feet weren’t so far under the table. Consequently, England have been forced to look at alternatives – Bopara being the obvious candidate.
I think most observers, ourselves included, thought Ravi was a shoe in for the first test. Well, apparently not. According to Strauss anybody hoping to replace Morgan will have to perform well in the warm up matches – and that not only applies to Bopara, but Bresnan and Patel too.
It would be just Ravi’s luck if England abandoned their penchant for playing six batsmen at the precise moment he’s first in the queue. However, Strauss and the management are probably wary of the fact that Bopara was a walking wicket on his last tour to Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the heat in Sri Lanka is so intense that you could fry an egg on Matt Prior’s head. If any conditions necessitate the inclusion of a fifth bowler, these are certainly them.
When push comes to shove, we predict that England will probably stick to their guns and field the same bowling attack that did so well in the UAE (Anderson, Broad, Swann and Panesar). That means Ravi will get his chance after all.
So if we do see the names ‘Patel’ or ‘Bresnan’ in the final XI (but no Bopara) we might give Ricky Ponting a call and ask him what the weather’s doing is his neck of the woods. Presumably, everything would be frozen over.
At the end of the day, picking four bowlers has become a way of life for England. But at least we’re finally opening our minds to alternatives. That’s what a 0-3 drubbing does I suppose.