Bopara has a point to prove
Ravi Bopara believes he can “do something special” for England if he gets the nod to face Sri Lanka in the upcoming two-Test series.
The 26-year-old is favourite to inherit the place vacated by Eoin Morgan in England’s middle order, but faces competition from Samit Patel, whose left-arm spin makes him an attractive option in the sub-continent.
Bopara was an unused squad member in the recent Test series against Pakistan but played twice in the longer format last summer as an injury stand-in.
His last stint as a first-choice player ended in 2009 following a disappointing Ashes series, but he is now ready to show he can make a mark on the biggest stage.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Bopara, who has 12 caps to his name over a four-year period. “It’s only a two-Test series but it’s a little window to do something special for England.
“That’s what I really want to do. I want to go out and win the game and if I can do that and get some runs, I’ll be very happy.
“I’ve had little glimpses of opportunities here and there, but with the two Tests I played last summer I knew they were just going to be one or two games because of injuries.
“There wasn’t a lot to gain in terms of my place but there was a lot to gain confidence-wise. Scoring 40-odd (44 not out) at The Oval in the summer was massive for me, it gave me that confidence.”
Bopara’s absence from the 3-0 Test whitewash against Pakistan means he bears none of the scars inflicted by spin duo Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman on some of this team-mates.
England were caused problems throughout the series against the duo and will undoubtedly be tested by slow bowlers again.
Bopara acknowledges the challenge that awaits, but is also expecting Sri Lanka’s seamers to have an impact.
“I think we were caught a little bit cold at the beginning of the UAE tour,” he said. “As the tour went on everybody got better at playing spin, but it’s not all about spin.
“In these conditions, with this humidity, the ball will swing around, especially early doors. We’ve seen in the past Chaminda Vaas has been very successful out here and he is a swing bowler.
“We have to cope with that as well, it’s not just about spin.”
Bopara has unwelcome memories of Sri Lanka, ending his first Test tour in 2007 with three consecutive ducks in Colombo and Galle.
He insists that will not affect him this time and intends on playing with a clear mind if he gets the chance to put the record straight.
“You have to stay level-headed, you’ve got to stay calm,” he said.
“That’s the only way to go about it. You can’t let these situations get to you. I know you’re playing for your country and you have to have passion but you can’t let emotion take over.
“The way we train is to take the emotion out of things and get on with playing the game hard and to win.”