England don't seem to miss their former captain at all!
Paul Collingwood, former England captain, in fact, the only England captain who has led the side to glory in a major ICC tournament and not just that; he was an effective all-rounder with good batting skills equipped with his exquisite shots played with a straight bat and also, a part-time bowler, doesn't have the pace but has good variations – and with these skills put together, he became the first ever player to take six wickets and score a century in an ODI. After a decade of loyal service to his constituent country, his form had started declining which was evident in the 2011 World Cup; he finally decided to quit test cricket in 2011 and although he is officially still in contention for the ODI team, his career is nearly done. England were predicted to plunge into a crisis after losing a player of such calibre but did it really happen? Fortunately, they had a saviour coming to their rescue.
The saviour whom I am talking about was a mere journeyman at the start of his career, travelling with the England squad nearly to every corner of the world, just to bring gloves and drinks for his seniors. I hadn't the faintest idea on who this lad was but I had very high hopes on him since the day when Bumble casually mentioned from the commentary box that 'he is a player very similar to Paul Collingwood'. Although he was a disappointment initially, he did rise up to the occasion when the team needed him most, when they were in an absolute crisis against India in 2007, with England needing 99 runs with just three wickets in hand, he handled the pressure so well and put up a brilliant partnership with Stuart Broad, helping England sail through. The person whom I am talking about is none other than Ravi Bopara, one of the many other successful fellows from Essex.
While Collingwood himself, was so useful to the team as he could fit in as a batsman at any position, he has played as a number three batsman, middle-order and even as a lower middle-order batsman. However, Bopara, while being largely similar, has gone one step further, and is England's standby opener. Day by day, Bopara is becoming a much better player and his recent performances against Australia and West Indies stand as a testimony for the aforementioned statement.
Bopara still has a lot to work on to reach the level of Collingwood regarding batting but it is a completely different story when it comes to the other aspect of the game. Bopara was just an ordinary part time bowler for a large period of his international career but for the past one year, his speed is higher than it was ever before and he has started consistently bowling 120 km/hr + and I was shocked and at the same time elated, to see him devastate India in the one off T20 game at Kolkata in 2011 with his off cutters. His splendid economy rate makes him more than just a part time bowler in the shorter formats of the beautiful game.
He is one of those players whom teams would soon fear in the near future, as he plays perfectly according to the situation. When the team needs quick runs, he is able to provide that with his elegant wristy shots sending the ball to the boundary over and over again and when the team loses quick wickets, he bats responsibly without throwing his wicket away.
It is a pity that Ravi Bopara is fighting for a spot in England, where the bench strength is stronger than the playing eleven of several test playing nations and although he has established himself as a regular in the limited forms of the game, he is still battling for his spot with Eoin Morgan in tests.
With England gradually becoming the new superpower of cricket, replacing the might Australians of Ricky Ponting, Ravi Bopara, would surely be a key man in this upcoming golden generation of English cricketers.
Have a nice day,