'Stronger' Bopara wants Test spot
If Steven Smith can do it, then why not Ravi Bopara? After a halting first experience of combat against Australia, Bopara is adamant he can return to Test cricket for England, and has the tale of his Sydney Sixers team-mate Smith as a source of encouragement to do so.
Like Smith, Bopara stumbled on first contact with Ashes pressure, losing his place in the England top six to Jonathan Trott , after the first four Tests of the 2009 series reaped a mere 115 runs at 15. He has played only three times since, but Bopara yearns for another chance to prove he has learned much in the meantime. Still only 28, England's batting stumbles in Australia may yet offer him a chance to emulate Smith's century in Perth.
"I'd love another crack at Test cricket, I've got a lot to offer still," Bopara told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the Sixers' first match, against the Sydney Thunder on Saturday. "I'd love another chance, and I think I have learned. I've become a stronger person, a better player, and I think my results of the recent past are showing that as well.
"I'm 28 years old, I think I've got another seven, eight years in the game, hopefully I can stay fit, maybe even more. I'm not an allrounder where I need my bowling to get me into a team, I can do that with my batting alone, and you've seen batters go on to 39 or 40 these days, so there's no reason I can't do that."
A batsman of considerable talent but also a very useful change bowler, Bopara offers a few options to England's hierarchy should they judge him to have made the necessary strides. Having batted at No. 3 in 2009, his more recent Test appearances have been at No. 6, but the likely long-term absence of Trott may open up another place in the middle order.
As Australia were completing their 3-0 Ashes thumping of the tourists, Ravi Bopara was shaking off jetlag while settling into his Sydney base for the Big Bash League. As a key member of England's limited-overs squads, he will play four matches with the Sixers before returning to the banner of the Three Lions ahead of matches against Australia, West Indies and the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
"I'm not entirely using this as a way to get acclimatised, this is a very important competition, not only to the club but to myself as well," Bopara said. "I'd love to come and do well, and hopefully have a future in the BBL as well, it's not just about these four games ... it would be a lovely place to keep coming back to play."
Observing how the hosts had so vastly improved their performances to not only beat England but pulverise them, Bopara said he had felt something of a momentum shift during the ODIs that followed the Ashes. England had beaten Australia comfortably in a Champions Trophy encounter earlier in the summer, but in the autumn fixtures Mitchell Johnson's pace and the aggression of the Australian batsmen had already begun to have an impact.
"I definitely see a bit of a difference in the Australian team ... I can only judge them on the one-day format and they beat us in that after the series in England so they were playing well," he said. "When I played against them I thought 'This is tough, hard cricket', and it was always going to be tough to beat Australia out here in their own conditions. I'm shocked by the scoreline, but I'm not shocked that it was going to be difficult.
"I know it's 3-0 in the Test series but I wouldn't be too doom and gloom about what's happening on this tour, there's a lot of cricket to be played over the next year or so, I'm pretty sure England will be back to winning ways soon - it won't be too long."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here