Bopara gives selectors another push
Essex 353 for 6 v Yorkshire
Essex batsman Ravi Bopara gave a timely reminder to the England selectors by scoring a fine century against leaders Yorkshire on the opening day of the County Championship clash at Chelmsford. With the opening Test against Pakistan just over a week away, the 25-year-old right-hander posted 142 to press his claims for a recall now that Ian Bell is sidelined through injury.
Bopara took full advantage of a friendly pitch to stamp his authority on the opening day's play as Essex reached the close on 353 for 6. He never looked in the slightest trouble in completing his first Championship hundred of the season, having struck half-centuries in his previous two outings.
It contained 13 fours and he went on to collect another six before a mistimed hook against paceman Tino Best ended up in the hands of Adil Rashid at square leg. While Bopara was enjoying himself, Alastair Cook failed to capitalise on the conditions.
After looking at ease whilst collecting five fours in moving to 44, the England opener was the architect of his own downfall when he slashed a wide delivery from Steve Patterson to provide wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy with an easy catch. Cook's dismissal came in the over following the departure of Jaik Mickleburgh, who contributed 38 out of an opening stand of 97 before he was bowled by leg-spinner Rashid.
When Tom Westley fell leg before to Patterson it meant Essex had lost three wickets in seven overs while moving to 120 at lunch. But Bopara and Matt Walker were to retrieve the situation by adding 80 in 29 overs before the latter was well caught low down at deep mid-wicket by Jonathan Bairstow for 26 to give Rashid another success.
But Walker's exit only signalled the arrival of James Foster to join Bopara in the most lucrative partnership of the day. They warmed to their task by adding 124 in 26 overs, of which Foster made 61, before Oliver Hannon-Dalby had him caught at deep square-leg by Patterson with the second new ball.
Bopara was to depart soon afterwards, a few minutes before the close, leaving Grant Flower and Tim Phillips to drop anchor and survive to carry their partnership into the second day. Yorkshire used six bowlers in their toiling attempts to make progress, the most successful being Rashid and Patterson who have so far picked up two wickets each for 74 and 72 respectfully.