Ravi Bopara tweeted good tidings to his team-mate, Tom Westley, who made his Test debut this week for England. It may have been me but it seemed to be tinged with sadness.
It wasn’t so long ago that Ravi was the coming man for England from the east of England’s talent hothouse, a proud county who had a virtual conveyor belt of England batsman down the years. Some of the greats, too, including Graham Gooch, Nasser Hussain and, of course, Alastair Cook.
But Bopara never nailed down his chance with England in any format. After Test and ODI opportunities had been wasted, he was pencilled in for the important finishing role as a T20 specialist. But he could never actually finish a game off.
He is more reliable in Essex colours and can perhaps serve a reminder to the selectors as a ‘what might have been’ in front of the television cameras on Saturday night when Essex host Gloucestershire.
Ravi is +400 with Bet365 to top score and that looks a fair wager considering he is their top runscorer in the Blast tournament so far. He has 252 runs at an average of 42. Most importantly his strike rate is the highest of anyone in the top order at a staggering 155.
This means that he won’t need to bat as long as some of his team-mates for honours. Or he will outscore them in a fraction of the time.
For example, Adam Wheater and Varun Chopra are the two jollies on this market at +375 with Paddy Power. But they strike at 118 and 139 in comparison to Bopara. And they have inferior averages, not to mention run tallies. Wheater has only played three matches mind.
So it is clear that Ravi is the value call for us on this one. If you fancy another couple of Essex players on what is a very good batting wicket, Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster may prick your fancy.
Ten Doeschate is a saver in case the miserly Gloster bowlers get on a roll and pin Essex down. He is +600 again with Bet365. The skipper is a dangerous striker of the ball and can lay waste to attacks.
Likewise Foster who is +2000 with William Hill. Foster actually has the best strike rate of all the Essex hitters but is rated so poorly because he bats at No 7. But he did top score with a rapid half century against Middlesex on Thursday night. He should not be as big.