Bopara stands by ‘fighter’ Cook

Published: Sunday 30th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Alastair Cook’s critics are circling once again, but support from within his England team is steadfast.

Ravi Bopara, a team-mate of Cook’s for more than 15 years since the very start of their careers at Essex, describes the captain as a “fighter” who has proved his doubters wrong many times and will do so again.

The statistics are beginning to stack up alarmingly against Cook, who after yesterday’s eight-wicket trouncing by Sri Lanka has overseen seven one-day international defeats in England’s last eight matches.

The opener is also badly short of runs, with just one ODI half-century in his last 18 innings, and at 2-0 down already here is in danger of leading England to his sixth successive series defeat.

Bopara, however, finds it easy to retain faith in a cricketer who has a career trait of resilience.

“He’s a determined guy. He always wants to do well,” said the all-rounder, who has made back-to-back half-centuries so far on this tour.

“He’s trying his best to do the country proud, the fans proud, himself, his team-mates, his family.

“He’s a good enough player to turn it around. He’s a fighter.

“I’ve seen him do it before, and I’m pretty sure it’ll come round very, very, very soon.”

Only three months ago, Bopara himself had to try to prove his point again after being dropped by England for the home series against India.

He said: “I’ve been dropped many times – and every time you do get dropped, you do get that little bit stronger; you have a little bit more hunger, and you’re more determined.

“I worked very hard in the month we had off. I knew I had to, because I’d just got back to be selected again – and I had to perform to keep myself in.”

Bopara’s runs have been to no avail yet here for England, who by Cook’s own admission “never got going” at the Premadasa Stadium on Saturday – when they mustered only 185 all out, after choosing to bat first.

Bopara believes England paid for failing to spot a significant change in a pitch which had also been used for Wednesday’s first ODI of seven.

“We were outplayed. I don’t think we adjusted to the conditions very well,” he said.

“Although we played on the same pitch, it wasn’t (really) the ‘same’ pitch.

“We played on a very fresh, good pitch the first time round. Three days later, it was a bit drier, little bit more turn, a bit slower.

“We didn’t adjust very well, I don’t think, and that’s what ultimately cost us the game.”

As long as England learn quickly from that, Bopara is sure they can fight back in this series at the start of their World Cup winter.

“When we review, we have to do it right; we have to speak about things that matter.

“We know we have to adjust to conditions quickly over here. Pitches can vary and we’ve got to recognise that very early.

“Yesterday, we should have noticed from the first or second over that this is a completely different pitch.

“If we can go into our next few games adjusting early then I feel very confident we can go on and win.”

Published: Sunday 30th November 2014 by The News Editor

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