Essex boy shows Pietersen the way

Ravi Bopara staked a solid claim for the No 3 spot in England's Test team with his century here yesterday. But if all else fails he could always contemplate a career as batting coach, having last night put forward a suggestion or two on how Kevin Pietersen might deal with 90mph outswingers. Yes, the Essex boy is now brimming with confidence on and off the field.

Having just proved himself as the most successful member of England's small Indian Premier League contingent with some good performances for King's Punjab XI, Bopara readjusted to the long form of the game well enough to score an unbeaten 118 out of the home team's 289 for 7.

True, he was dropped on 76 and 100 – two of six chances spilled by the West Indies yesterday – but a near six-hour innings suggests he could have a long future in what has become a problem position.

Other batsmen were less successful, Pietersen among them. Dismissed by the bowler of the day, Fidel Edwards, for a first-ball duck, England's most recent former captain looked to have received an almost unplayable delivery. "It's not a great ball to get first up – 90 mph and swinging out," agreed Bopara, who saw it all from the non-striker's end. "It's a horrible ball to get. But I'm sure he will learn from it."

A gaggle of reporters assumed Bopara's final comment was meant as a joke. As the laughter subsided, though, he insisted with a face as straight as many of his defensive strokes: "There are ways of combating that. You can lower your backlift and that sort of stuff. When you've got someone like Fidel bowling 90mph and swinging it away you can just leave your bat quite low and not go so hard at the ball."

Back to the nets with you, Kevin lad, and see what can be done. Whether or not Bopara was jesting, England will be no doubt be thrilled to see the 24-year-old full of himself, in the best possible way, on and off the field. Only 18 months ago he looked horribly forlorn after finishing his debut Test series, in Sri Lanka, with three consecutive ducks. And there were some who feared for him at Lord's, simply because he had played nothing but Twenty20 IPL cricket since end of the Caribbean tour a month ago. Fret no longer.

"I've felt very relaxed over the last couple of days and I'm glad it's gone my way," said Bopara. "I think sometimes it [playing Twenty20 cricket] works to your advantage. If you come from a place where you've been trying to play positive then, as a batter, you get into better positions. If you are a bit negative you get tentative and start poking at the ball. So I think it worked to my advantage.

"I hope I go into the next Test batting at No 3 and, hopefully, for the Ashes as well. It's a big thing for me and I'm looking forward to it." Bopara's name is already on the honours board at Lord's, albeit handwritten on a piece of white tape, after he joined the list of batsmen to score a Test century at the home of cricket. "I'm really proud of that," he said. "When you come to Lord's and you play county matches you wonder whether your name will ever be up there. So I'm very happy."

The man of the moment gave his colleagues a hint to get cracking with the pen and masking tape, drawing an outline of the board with his finger and then making a squiggle sign immediately after reaching three figures. And, had there been any justice, Edwards could have done something similar last night. He took four wickets but also had three catches dropped and must try again today to claim the fifth victim that will put his name up in lights.

Thanks to Edwards, a crowd of around 16,000 witnessed a good contest between bat and ball. And while the day belonged to Bopara, the match remains open.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering