Bopara highlights Strauss strengths
Ravi Bopara believes Andrew Strauss’ power and adaptability are key to the England captain’s outstanding one-day international form.
Strauss struck his second hundred in three ODIs to put England on course to overhaul Pakistan’s imposing total of 294 at Headingley Carnegie yesterday.
Bopara himself chipped in with a swift 16 as the hosts clinched a four-wicket win to go 2-0 up in the NatWest Series, but it was Strauss’ 126 from 134 balls that stole the show.
“I think he showed everybody how he can bat yesterday,” said Bopara. “His power-hitting has certainly come on over the last few years.
“The way he played yesterday, he used the pace and hit a lot of big shots square. That was what was required. But he can adapt when he needs to.
“He has got two hundreds in the last three games. He has batted brilliantly in the last few one-dayers.
“We all know how hard it is to get one-day hundreds. It is a very difficult thing to do. He is doing it.
“I cannot remember a one-dayer I’ve played in where he hasn’t got runs."
Bopara, who smashed 35 not out in England’s opening NatWest Series win, is hoping his performances until the end of the summer can put him into the reckoning for the Ashes tour.
He lost his place in the Test team through lack of runs in last summer’s Ashes triumph on home soil, and has not played at that level since last August.
Bopara has figured in three successive ODIs and two Twenty20s, but the chance to play against Australia again would be especially highly-prized.
“I am desperate to make things right. I would love to get the opportunity to do that,” he confirmed.
“But I am not the sort of person now that likes to look too far ahead.
“If you look too far ahead you stop thinking about the important things you are doing now.”
Bopara, top of Essex’s averages in four-day and 40-over cricket this summer, has nonetheless gone through two particularly lean times for England - first in Sri Lanka in 2007, and then again a year ago.
Both times it has hit him hard, but both times he believes he has recovered - and, most importantly, improved.
“Experiences like that either make you a better cricketer, or they destroy you completely. I know for a fact they have made me a better player,” he insisted.
That process means he can empathise with Kevin Pietersen, left out of England’s limited-overs teams versus Pakistan to try to find form on loan at Surrey - and now eyeing short-term employment with his native KwaZulu-Natal Inland in South Africa.
Bopara found playing in New Zealand last winter hugely beneficial, and believes Pietersen’s stint with Natal may prove likewise.
“That is a very wise move. The move I made to Auckland was very good for my game, and me as a person,” Bopara said.
“I had time to myself, away from everybody and all the coaches. I loved being away and doing things on my own.
“I’ve never really liked too much advice or too many people having their input. I take advice, but prefer to work things out for myself.
“I think Kevin is the same sort of person - and I think going away to Natal will be a great move for him, and a great move for English cricket.”
Bopara needed more than the extra space in Auckland to rehabilitate himself, though, and he admits he has former England captain Nasser Hussain to thank for telling advice this summer.
“You can get very hard on yourself when you do get dropped, and a lot of it comes from being too desperate," Bopara continued.
“You try everything, get in the nets, try to do everything right. The only thing you are doing wrong is being a little bit too desperate.
“In the t20s (for Essex), I was not scoring many runs and just wanted to get a really big score, because I knew I was capable of it.
“But I spoke to Nasser and he gave me some really good advice: ‘Take your time. You’ve been wanting it too much. Go out and enjoy it. You have another 10 or 12 years in this game.’
“It was a great piece of advice. That is exactly what I did in the very next game - and it worked.”