Pressure mounting on Bopara’s place!

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara could find himself on the sidelines for England s do-or-die Ashes clash with Australia starting at the Oval next week, writes MIKE SIMMONDS. The series is intriguingly poised at 1-1, after England were unceremoniously thumped

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara could find himself on the sidelines for England's do-or-die Ashes clash with Australia starting at the Oval next week, writes MIKE SIMMONDS.

The series is intriguingly poised at 1-1, after England were unceremoniously thumped in three days at Headingley over the weekend.

That defeat brought Bopara's place at number three into much debate as the former Brampton Manor pupil made one run from seven balls in both innings, including a golden duck.

He has made just 105 runs in seven visits to the crease, at an average of 15, and England head coach Andy Flower admitted the batting line-up would need some serious thought.


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"We have to think about the middle-order," he told BBC Sport.

"We've got one ton in this series - Andrew Strauss is holding us together - they've got eight. Ravi Bopara has had a hard time. He was very confident coming in, but he's taken some knocks.

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"When Bopara came in and scored three tons he looked good, composed, certainly talented enough, but the jury was still out about whether or not he was a number three.

"That's still the case. I'm not going to say he's not going to be a top number three, he has lots of talent and he has a very high ceiling.

"But we'll let the dust settle before making any call on that."

There have been calls to resurrect the Test careers of Marcus Trescothick and even Mark Ramprakash for the decider that begins on Friday, August 20, and national selector Geoff Miller didn't discount the idea of selecting a more experienced hand.

"I'm not ruling anybody out," Miller told Radio 5 Live.

"What we have to do as selectors is measure the quality of what they are doing in domestic cricket and whether they can do it internationally.

"There's a lot more pressure in Test cricket, it's a different game altogether.

"The players we have in the side are good enough to be international players. It doesn't necessarily mean, all of a sudden, that they are not good enough.

"We stay loyal with the players unless we feel it's completely necessary to make those changes. We will sit down and work out the best way forward."

Former Australian international Jason Gillespie believes that Bopara still has a future with England, but lower down the order.

"I think the responsibility of batting at three should be given to a more senior player," he told BBC Sport. "I'd like to see him (Bopara) cut his teeth in international cricket at position five or six."

Bopara, who was born in Forest Gate, was selected for Essex's County Championship match with Middlesex this week.

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