England must define Ravi Bopara's one-day role, says David Lloyd
David Lloyd says it's high time that England decide what ODI role they want Ravi Bopara to fulfil.
Last Updated: 06/09/13 2:38pm
Bopara, 28, scored an unbeaten hundred batting at six as he and Eoin Morgan (124no) put on an unbroken stand of 226 as England beat Ireland by six wickets in Tuesday's ODI in Dublin.
In an interview with Sky Cricket (available at the top of this story), the Essex all-rounder said he'd love to be known as a finisher of innings, but Lloyd said that too often Bopara's position in the order is dictated by who else is playing - and that it's doing him no favours.
"The interview tells you a lot about the lad - the insecurity," said Lloyd. "I find the positions that he's batted in quite staggering and England have got to make their mind up as to what his role is - and let him know!
"Bopara has played 90 times for England in one-day internationals; he's opened 14 times (averaging 29.2), batted at three six times (17.8), 19 times at four (33.1), nine at five (34.4), 12 at six (50.6), 18 at seven (25.3) and five at eight (117). That's confusion, to me. I think he's a wonderful player in all forms of the game.
"There are one or two players in England's team who are immoveable feasts. Do you think Alastair Cook would ever bat six? That's not going to happen, but it's okay for Ravi Bopara to open - or bat at six, four and five and seven and eight. His bosses need to make him fully aware of what his role is. He needs a settled place.
"In this series we could have Kevin Pietersen, a number four, opening the batting and Joe Root, an opener, batting at number four, so I'm intrigued as to how England will sort it all out and slot them all in. Jonathan Trott isn't moving from three - he's not going to have a go at six, seven or eight. England have got to sort it out.
"If England are to win a World Cup they'll have to decide - and they might have to be quite brutal - as to what their best line-up is.
"I don't think they're losing anything if Pietersen or Root opens in place of Cook in this series or if James Tredwell plays instead of Graeme Swann - and give Jimmy Anderson a rest and get him ready for the Tests."
England take on Australia in five ODIs in this month's NatWest Series before taking on Michael Clarke's side again in as many 50-over contests in January, following the conclusion of the 2013/14 Ashes.
Australian expert Greg Blewett said he has no doubts that England's experienced players will return for those limited overs matches leaving Bopara to fight for a place in the middle-order once again.
"England have got to work out the balance of their side," said Blewett. "Bell and Cook will come back in and then you've got Pietersen and Trott up the top, so you've got to slot Bopara in somewhere.
"We talk about Morgan being a finisher but you need more than one - you need a bit of versatility there as well.
"So I think that is the only place where he slots into the side; he's had his chance at opening and other guys have taken their opportunities there now.
"Bopara slips into that all-rounder's role - his bowling has come on - so I think that's the logical place for him. I wouldn't imagine that someone like Cook would be a good finisher of an innings - once he's in he might be able to do the job.
"But when Ravi's in good form he's got a little bit of swagger about him and he's able to assess the conditions and the situation quite well, so he's a very good asset batting later in the innings.
"He has struggled with a bit of confidence at times and is probably wondering himself if he is good enough at this level but he's certainly got all the shots and he has improved his game.
"At 28 years of age he should just be coming into his prime."