Essex boys the perfect double act

Bopara and Cook are the dynamic duo for county – now they look ideal partners for England

Dubai

Familiarity has bred content for England so far in the one-day series. Alastair Cook, their captain, and Ravi Bopara, their elevated middle-order batsman, have played as comfortably together as if they were old pals, each sensing what the other is thinking or might do next.

This is because they are. Their partnerships of 131 in the first match and 78 in the second, with Cook making successive centuries and Bopara two fifties, have played a large part in taking England to an improbable 2-0 lead against Pakistan. They have been based on long association.

They were boys of 12 when they first met through cricket and in the years since have regularly found themselves at opposite ends for Essex and England. There is an easy, mutual trust between them at the crease which was forged in the days of innocence.

"I think it does make a difference because you sort of know what's going on inside their head," Bopara said yesterday. "It does make it easier when your batting with your mate because you almost try to start helping each other out and you forget about what's going on around you – the bowlers, fielders, that stuff.

"You just think, 'Let's just help each other out here and make it easier for us' and it's amazing how quickly things change in the middle. We do enjoy batting together, we've done it a lot in the past as well."

The partnership which thrust them into the public gaze was made when they were both 20 and put Australia to the sword one sappingly hot August day at Chelmsford.

Despite the 270 runs they put on for the second wicket, it might have been largely overlooked, except it was a few days before the decisive final Ashes Test of 2005 and the country was going cricket crazy.

For these embryonic batsmen to have walloped the speed merchant Brett Lee around the county ground with such abandon weakened Australia at a crucial moment. A few days later Lee was subjected to the blazing bat of Kevin Pietersen.

Unions between Bopara and Cook have been limited because of Cook's role as opener but they seem to work. They have batted together 64 times in all in senior cricket, covering county and international cricket, and their average partnership is 50.

"Cookie's a really good bloke, I've known him for years and he's just a good mate of mine and somebody who'll be a mate for ever," said Bopara. "All we've been saying when we've been in together is just notch the score up by five runs. We're not speaking too much about what's going on and how difficult it can be in the middle."

For Bopara, who has made 50 and 58, his seventh and eighth ODI fifties embellishing a patchy record, this is also a chance to reclaim his Test batting place. When he made his third hundred in succession, against the West Indies in 2009 at Chester-le-Street, it seemed a long and auspicious career beckoned.

Three months later he was out of the side after a poor run, with England needing to win the final Test at The Oval to clinch the Ashes. He has never been an automatic choice again, but with England's batting having folded so abjectly in the recent Test series – and a tour of Sri Lanka starting next month – his turn might arrive once more.

"I don't expect to be given a chance but I'd like to be knocking on that door so hard they can't ignore it," said Bopara. "A few more runs in this series and, hopefully, I'll get that knock."

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?