Third time lucky for Bopara?
Posted in England v India 2011
Much has been made of the reprieve Ian Bell received from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his India team in the Trent Bridge Test.
Now Ravi Bopara’s inclusion in the squad for the third npower Test starting tomorrow makes him the next England batsman to be given another chance.
Bopara’s recall is his third opportunity in the Test side, following stints in 2007 and 2009.
He made up for a poor series in Sri Lanka in December 2007 - when he averaged just 15 with the bat - with three centuries in as many Tests against West Indies after a 14-month wait to be recalled, and he maintained his position in the Test team for the 2009 Ashes.
Today marks two years since Bopara’s last involvement in the side, in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley Carnegie, and with England sweeping all before them now is arguably the best time to be re-entering the fray.
Bopara would have been forgiven for thinking that another opportunity would never come his way after being pipped to a Test berth by Eoin Morgan in advance of the Sri Lanka series earlier this summer.
He would have been especially disappointed given his decision to demonstrate his commitment to the England cause by refusing an Indian Premier League contract in favour attempting to impress the selectors by battling with Essex on the county circuit.
After missing out on a place in England’s 2010-11 Ashes squad, Bopara set about making the most of his winter by following in Kevin Pietersen’s footsteps to turn out for KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins in South Africa
Bopara then joined up with the England Lions squad for their January tour of the West Indies, but was whisked away to the World Cup to replace the injured Morgan.
A return to action with Essex in April seemingly stood Bopara in good stead for involvement in the Sri Lanka Test series, but Morgan’s 193 for the Lions seven days before the first Sri Lanka Test meant Bopara’s winter work looked to have gone to waste. His recall shows that this has not been the case.
Although only in the squad as a replacement for the injured Jonathan Trott, if Bopara can channel the obvious natural shot-making ability into a good showing at Edgbaston.he may well have cemented his place ahead of Leicestershire youngster James Taylor as England’s go-to guy when injury strikes, perhaps exorcising a few demons along the way too.
Lions captain Taylor is certainly one for the future and may get his chance in the months to come after another full county season under his belt. For now, though, Bopara has his chance.
Geoff Miller’s squad announcement proves that the door always remains open for England’s former charges to make a comeback and Bopara will want to grasp this Test lifeline with both hands.