Big Bash League 2013-14 December 20, 2013

'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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dileep on December 21, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Bopara is 28 and has many years ahead of him. In his first attempt at test cricket he scored 3 consecutive test hundreds against the West Indies. He then had 1 poor series against a top Australian bowling line up (can happen to the best) and was hardly given a second chance at test cricket again. In all he has played 13 tests (very few). In ODIs despite being treated abominably by the England selectors (dropped umpteen number of times, shunted up and down the order from opener to no.7) he still averages 33 with a strike rate of 79 which are comparable to Paul Collingwood's statistics. There are a number of tough recent ODI series which England have won because of Ravi Bopara's batting. E.g home ODI series against Australia in 2011 when he was England's leading batsman. He's the only current England player to have scored a domestic one day double ton, that in itself is testament to his talent. He has an effortless range of shots that not many other current English batsmen possess.

  • Sean on December 21, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Nope, not gonna happen. England are going through a rebuilding phase now with a view to getting back the stolen ashes in 2015. Bopara would be a step backwards.

  • Paulo on December 20, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    I remember when I thought Ravi was to be a long term opener in white ball cricket. He doesnt have a great England record but has suffered in my opinion from being on the yoyo. He has done well in 2013 though. But my issue with Ravi is the amount of times he has got England into a winning position and then got out.

    In terms of a test place I'd want him to be behind Taylor, Ballance, Moeen Ali and James Vince. But perhaps he should be ahead of Robson or Woakes.

  • Robert on December 20, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    Ravi is a class player - you just need to look at some of his ODI innings to see the talent. He just needed to sort his head out - cos that is the difference between an average and a good test player.

    A bit like Finn (and before him Harmy) - he needs to get a bit nasty. Toughen up!!

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    I'm torn, part of me thinks he's probably the worst English cricketer ever to have 100 international caps, a career of horrible sub-mediocrity punctuated with almost no noteworthy performances, big question marks over his mental strength and some horrendous chokes when a fleeting moment of glory awaited. But then he doesn't quite have the worst bowling average in Test cricket, taking that record would be a fitting farewell to a guy who has only ever so much as threatened competency in international cricket in the last 12 months.

  • Naveed on December 20, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    if the selectors are afraid of killing the new comers on this tour, defo try Bopara again, he did the right thing by taking himself away from tests, he's recharged...................................nothing to lose at all...

  • David on December 20, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    I think he's rubbing his hands, looking at England's current batting woes.

  • stewey on December 20, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Bopara has produced the goods on a number of occasions. I do hope he gets a test spot. England will be better off if he does.

  • Brendan on December 20, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    Future looks good for Englamd; The next three years will produce; Cook, Robson, Root, Ballance, Bopara, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Kerrigan, Finn. Topley.

  • Bryn on December 20, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    the answer your first question. because steve smith is an extremely talented cricketer and ravi bopara is not. the way England are going even someone like bopara could probably find himself in their team although he seems a better bowler than he is a batsman so maybe he should work on that

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