Bopara joins Dolphins in South Africa
Ravi Bopara, the England allrounder, has followed in the footsteps of Kevin Pietersen by joining the Dolphins franchise in South Africa having missed out on both the main Ashes squad and the performance party that is travelling to Australia.
It was decided between Bopara and the selectors that his winter would be better spent playing regular cricket, as he did last year with Auckland, rather than being sat with the reserve squad. He is set to play two four-day matches in the SuperSport series competition as well as the domestic one-day tournament which runs from October 29 to December 10.
"We gave him the opportunity to play in South Africa, and he was happy to do that, as opposed to just going with the Performance squad," said England's national selector, Geoff Miller. "We talked it through with his coach [Paul Grayson at Essex] as well. South Africa to Australia is not a million miles away, so it's an opportunity for him to get good middle practice and some good runs on the board."
Bopara will then hope to be included in England's one-day squad for the limited-overs matches which follow the Ashes, consisting of two Twenty20 internationals and five one-dayers ahead of the World Cup.
"We were looking for an experienced player who could add value," Jesse Chellan, the KwaZulu-Natal chief executive, told Reuters. "Ravi was keen to play in South Africa and we knew he would want to prepare well ahead of the limited-overs leg of England's tour to Australia."
However, Bopara is not a certainty for England's future one-day plans having been dropped during the series against Pakistan after failing to make the most of his chances in the absence of Pietersen. He made an unbeaten 35 off 27 balls in the opening match at Chester-le-Street, but followed that with scores of 16 at Headingley and 7 at The Oval after being promoted to No. 4 in place of the ill Paul Collingwood. When Michael Yardy was ruled out of the final match it was Luke Wright who took the vacant role in the middle order.
Pietersen, meanwhile, will shortly be heading to Durban for his two-week stint with the Dolphins as he continues to search for form ahead of the Ashes. Pietersen is due to play two first-class games between October 7 and 17.