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Bopara keen to seize England chance

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Ravi Bopara is anxious to make up for lost time on his return to England colours after injury, in the NatWest Series against West Indies.

Bopara was at the head of the queue to fill England’s number six position against these opponents in this summer’s first Investec Test Series, only to suffer a calf injury on the eve of the squad announcement for the opening match last month.

That place was filled at Lord’s, and in two subsequent Tests, by Jonny Bairstow - and Bopara’s calf trouble was the latest in a series of minor but untimely niggles over the past eight months.

The middle-order batsman is expected to be back in the first of three 50-over matches against the Windies, at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

Ravi Bopara

A revitalised Ravi Bopara said: “I haven’t played a lot of cricket for England recently because of injuries. So it’s exciting for me.”

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I haven’t played a lot of cricket for England recently because of injuries. So it’s exciting for me, and I’m in good form.”

Bopara returned at the start of this month with a 40-over century, and then one in four-day cricket too, for Essex.

He is not about to start worrying unduly either about a run of injuries, which may be pure coincidence.

“It’s very frustrating. It’s only recently I’ve started to get a few injuries,” he added. “Before that, I very rarely missed games through injury ... it’s probably a sign of me getting old. It is annoying. It is frustrating. But whatever’s meant to be is meant to be.”

Even so, he is aware of others profiting from his absence - and at 27, time is not on his side as much as it once was.

“I guess what it does is it gives someone else an opportunity to cement their place, and that’s not ideal,” he said. “But it means when I get my opportunity, I’ve got to cement my place. Let’s hope I get it soon.”

Coach Ottis Gibson has no qualms, meanwhile, about the return of the charismatic and hugely destructive batsman Chris Gayle to a Windies team who have had to move on without him during his dispute with the board.

“He has always been a bit of a joker and prankster around the dressing room,” Gibson said. “He is his normal self, and the team has always integrated guys very well. That has not changed. He has fitted in well and is raring to go.

“He has had his say. He said what he wanted to say and got things off his chest. He has seen the new environment. He has seen what we are trying to do. I am sure that coming back he will buy into it. We have spoken, and he is very much on board with what is going on.”

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