Not again, he says as he storms off the ground. This is getting pretty fucking ridiculous. He's missed two in a row and suddenly Mitchell Johnson's words are getting to him. Slowly, very gradually, over the next few weeks he begins doubting himself, doubting his abilities. That century in the Test? Long gone. It's all ODIs and failing in the 40s for Bopara now. As the days go by, he finds himself descending into a state of failure-induced insanity. He is the crazy fellow who sits in a corner of the room, rocking silently and muttering the number 49 to himself repeatedly.
Of course, there's a flip side to it all but it's a pretty big flip side, just as this is a pretty long way for Bopara to supposedly fall. And I'm not going to mention it because it's a little scary.
Next match, he says. Next match he'll get that 50. It's only the Windies they're playing anyway.
And his captain has gone ahead and beat him. Bopara cries himself to sleep at the very thought.