Bopara in for the long haul
Ravi Bopara is determined to cement his place in the England side for the Ashes by proving himself against West Indies for a second time.
The Essex all-rounder was preferred to the more established names of Ian Bell, Owais Shah and Michael Vaughan to bat at number three in the first npower Test of the summer, which starts on Wednesday at Lord’s.
Bopara scored his maiden Test hundred against West Indies in the fourth Test in Barbados during the winter tour but he was sacrificed for an extra bowler in the next game as England chased a victory to tie the series.
This week Bopara is determined to prove he deserves to be a central figure for the whole of England's Ashes summer.
"I took my opportunity in the West Indies and if I get runs at number three there is a chance for me to bat at number three in the Ashes as well, which is a great opportunity for me," said Bopara.
"It is nice to know my opportunity is here again. That is what I have dreamed about since I was a young boy.
"It was a bit of a surprise to hear that Ian Bell, Owais Shah and Michael Vaughan weren't in the squad.
"I thought with Fred (Andrew Flintoff) being injured, one of them might have got a call-up, but I am happy. The guys have backed me and said, 'you are the man to do it' and I want to prove them right.
"I did understand being dropped in the West Indies. I knew one of the batters would be left out because we needed to win the Test and had to play an extra bowler.
"I had a feeling it would be me. Even coming off the back of a hundred I realised Owais deserved a run in the side. It was disappointing but also understandable."
If England stuck by Shah on tour, they have put their faith in Bopara at the start of a long summer of international cricket that includes Test series against West Indies and Australia, one-day series and the World Twenty20.
There is every chance Bopara will feature in them all, having returned from a short stint in the Indian Premier League last week as the most successful of the England players.
Bopara not only believes his short game has improved immeasurably, but he has no concerns about heading into a Test series with only Twenty20 cricket under his belt this season.
"The learning experience is amazing," he said. "I spoke a lot to Kumar Sangakkara and Yuvraj Singh.
“The Sri Lankans never panic and Yuvraj spoke to me a lot about death hitting. Hopefully I can put that into practice.
"I know we are preparing for a Test match but I will still be practising my one-day stuff because cricket is all about scoring runs, no matter how you score them.
"I know England's number three, four and five will only have played Twenty20 cricket but that doesn't matter. It is about scoring runs - not how but how many."