Nice and three-sy as Ravi aims for Ashes

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara is determined to take advantage of his promotion to number three for England, especially with the Ashes series on the horizon this summer, writes MIKE SIMMONDS. The England selectors have shown their faith in Bopara, who turn

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara is determined to take advantage of his promotion to number three for England, especially with the Ashes series on the horizon this summer, writes MIKE SIMMONDS.

The England selectors have shown their faith in Bopara, who turned 24 yesterday, by giving him the opportunity to showcase his talents in the international arena.

There had been calls for both Ian Bell or Michael Vaughan to take the number three slot, after Owais Shah failed to cement his place during the Caribbean tour.

But Bopara has been given the nod and he is now hoping to make the most of his chance.


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"It was a bit of a surprise to hear that Ian Bell, Owais Shah and Michael Vaughan weren't in the squad," admitted the former Brampton Manor pupil.

"I thought with (Andrew) Flintoff being injured one of them might have got a call-up, but I am happy.

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"The guys have backed me and said 'you are the man to do it' and I want to prove them right.

"If I get runs, there is a chance for me to bat at number three in the Ashes as well. It is nice to know my opportunity is here again."

Bopara, who was born in Forest Gate, would love nothing more than to repeat his last Test innings, when he made 104 in the West Indies back in February.

It finally showed that he can make the big scores needed at Test level, and that was something that impressed selector Geoff Miller.

"There was a lot of competition for that batting position, but Bopara now has the opportunity to stake a claim," he said. "He showed in Barbados that he has the ability to play at Test level."

Bopara hasn't featured for his county side yet this season, as he has spent most of April playing for King's XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

He made a top score of 84 against Bangalore Royal Challengers, captained by Kevin Pietersen, but despite having no LV County Championship matches going into the first Test at Lord's, he believes he has prepared properly.

"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," said the all-rounder, who admitted he learnt plenty out in South Africa.

"The learning experience was amazing. 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 take that on board and put it into practice."

England squad: Andrew Strauss, James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann.

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