Bopara ready to roar back with Lions
England batsman Ravi Bopara has spoken of his disappointment at his World Cup omission but vowed to earn - and make the most of - his next chance.
Bopara yesterday failed to make the cut as England named their final 15-man squad for next month’s one-day showpiece tournament in Asia.
The 25-year-old was also overlooked for this winter’s tour of Australia but had hoped to force his way back into the reckoning after some impressive performances for KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins in South Africa’s domestic competition.
Instead the Essex all-rounder must now concentrate on England Lions’ trip to the Caribbean, for which he departs this weekend, and await his next opportunity.
The Lions will play in the West Indies Cricket Board’s regional tournament, which involves four-day first-class matches against each of the other seven competing teams.
“I am very disappointed to miss out on the World Cup,” he said. “I have scored one-day runs for Essex over the last couple of years and I felt like it went really well in South Africa.
“I felt like I had a good chance, especially on those sub-continent pitches, but it just wasn’t to be. But selection is not down to me.
"I have just got to keep working. I have done some hard work over this winter and I hope that pays off in the West Indies on this tour with the Lions and early on in the season as well.
“I am hitting the ball well and batting better than I ever have and my bowling has come on a lot - I have taken quite a few wickets over the last year or so in one-day cricket.
“I have got to keep pushing and keep giving the selectors a headache.”
Bopara, who has 54 one-day international caps, played in three of England’s 50-over contests against Pakistan last September before losing his place and then missing out on selection for Australia.
He responded by scoring 336 runs at an average of 42 in nine innings for the Dolphins.
Bopara has also played in 10 Tests but he has not featured for England in the longest format since being dropped for the final Ashes Test in 2009 after a poor series.
The retirement of Paul Collingwood has opened the door for a possible return next summer and Bopara is well aware of the importance of the months ahead.
He said: “That does create space for someone else to step in there. I’d like to think I have a good opportunity and I would do my best to make the most of it.
“I have got to make my next chance come, I have got to score runs in the West Indies and early season to get in for the Test matches against Sri Lanka.
“The opportunity is there; there is a spot available. I have got to do my best to score runs and not worry about anyone else, just do my job.”
Bopara, who has played for King’s XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, was also overlooked in the recent player auction for the next instalment of the game’s most lucrative Twenty20 competition.
Yet he insists he is not dwelling on anything he has no control over.
“The winter has been going well,” said Bopara, who recently signed a new two-year contract at Essex.
“I really enjoyed my time out in South Africa. I played with a great bunch of lads and I had a really good time - not just cricket but just being around some really good, genuine people.
“I did a lot of good work with (coach) Graham Ford; I thought he was brilliant. The amount of time and effort he puts in with the players is incredible.
"He is a very hard-working man and I really appreciated the amount of time he put into my game. He has definitely, definitely improved my batting.
“I am a better player now than I was in 2009. If I said I wasn’t then I should retire tomorrow.”