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Bopara hails all-round strength
Ravi Bopara is playing his best cricket, and so are England, against Australia in the NatWest Series.
The man himself was moved to those superlatives at The Oval after England had taken their winning run in one-day internationals to eight matches, and put themselves one more success away from an unassailable 3-0 lead against the old enemy. Bopara's 82 hastened England's six-wicket triumph with more than four overs to spare, along with in-form opener Ian Bell's 75.
"I think this is probably the best side we've ever had," he said. "The bowlers are performing really well, putting pressure on (opposition) batsmen - and then there's always someone in the top six (for us) that goes on and gets a big score. The amount of hundreds we've scored in the last however many games has been incredible."
In truth, though, a bowling attack shorn of injured spearhead James Anderson had already done the hard work by restricting Australia to an under-par 251 for seven.
England are therefore potentially just three matches from adding world number one ODI status to their supremacy in Test and Twenty20 cricket. Whether that happens or not, Bopara is in no doubt about the ability of Alastair Cook's team.
Bopara was pretty pleased with his own performance too, and he added: "I enjoyed myself out there. I told myself just to watch the ball, and hit it, and I play my best when I do that.
"I think I'm batting the best I ever have. A few changes that I've made over these last six months have really worked for me."
Cook gave his Essex and England team-mate due credit, but was even more impressed with his bowlers - albeit on a pitch which was not quite as good for batting as he first expected.
"There was a little bit of nibble in that wicket, which was pretty much there all game," he said. "There was a little bit in it for the bowlers - probably a little bit more than we thought, but where we were really quite strong today was when Swanny [Graeme Swann] came on. We squeezed really, really well - with a few overs from Ravi as well.
"At The Oval, 250 is always gettable. We chased 230 against West Indies, and tried to stick to that same platform - and it was another really solid batting performance."