Bopara puts England snub behind him with 88
Essex 199 for 1 beat Northamptonshire 198 for 9 by nine wickets
Ravi Bopara put his England snub behind him by hitting a superb half-century as the Essex Eagles cruised to a nine-wicket Clydesdale Bank 40 victory over the Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road.
Young opening batsman Rob Newton blasted his first half-century in senior cricket, making 66 off 78 balls, but some indifferent batting from his team-mates meant the Steelbacks could only reach 198 for 9 off their 40 overs.
Bopara, who was left out of England's Test squad this morning, then smashed an unbeaten 88 from 89 balls with former Essex captain Mark Pettini plundering 58 off 61 balls as the Eagles triumphed with 40 deliveries to spare. The hosts won the toss and chose to bat, but they started badly when Rob White (five) dragged a Chris Wright delivery onto his stumps in the fourth over.
The second-wicket pair of Newton and Alex Wakely made 61 between them to stabilise Northamptonshire before Tom Westley bowled the latter for 29. Newton, 20, who was playing in only his third match in the first XI, then reached his 50 off 60 balls.
David Sales made 23 before he went cheaply by launching Tim Phillips to Pettini, who took the catch at mid-off.Newton was next to go when he smashed former Zimbabwe international Grant Flower to David Masters at long-off before Stephen Peters (seven) was trapped lbw by Flower.
The Steelbacks' innings was starting to wilt when captain Andrew Hall (10) was trapped leg before by Nottinghamshire loanee Andy Carter. Wicketkeeper David Murphy made just four before he looped Masters to Pettini at mid-off before Elton Chigumbura (24) top-edged the same bowler high into the air to his countryman Flower at backward point.
David Willey (six) was pinned lbw by Carter in the final over as Northamptonshire failed to reach 200. Essex's chase started well, with openers Pettini and Bopara making 50 between them inside 10 overs. Pettini reached his half-century off 49 balls, including one six over mid-wicket.
He made it to 58 before his powerful drive was superbly caught at backward point by Peters off the bowling of Chigumbura to finally break an opening stand of 99. Bopara made it to 50 off 58 balls with an enormous six over mid-on that landed in the top tier of the members' area.
He had been joined at the crease by Flower and the veteran made an unbeaten 35 as the Eagles coasted towards victory, with Flower hitting the winning run in the 34th over.