Ton-derful Ravi!

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara is determined to become a permanent fixture in the England side after hitting his first century in test cricket against the West Indies, writes MIKE SIMMONDS. The former Brampton Manor pupil made the most of his late inclusi

ESSEX all-rounder Ravi Bopara is determined to become a permanent fixture in the England side after hitting his first century in test cricket against the West Indies, writes MIKE SIMMONDS.

The former Brampton Manor pupil made the most of his late inclusion into the England squad with a fine 104 in Barbados and is now hoping to keep his place ahead of Friday's fifth Test in Trinidad.

"I hope that with this hundred I get some more games and get to cement my place in this England team for many years to come," said Bopara, who helped England to reach 600-6 declared, before sending down 13 wicketless overs for 66 runs as the hosts piled up 749-9.

"I didn't think I wouldn't get the opportunity again, but the thing that played on my mind was I had to take the chance when it came and I'd like to think I have.


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"I felt pretty confident from the minute I went out there. I'm pretty happy with that and hopefully I can build from there," he said.

Many cricket followers have touted Bopara as the country's most naturally talented batsman.

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He scored plenty of runs for Essex last season, but as with all young players, transferring that form to the international scene was the ultimate test.

The 23-year-old believes that replicating his approach while on duty for the county, is the best way forward, and it obviously worked in the West Indies.

"Over the last year or so, I have learned that being positive is my game," he said.

"I have worked on shots because you can either sit in there and grind out a hundred or chance your arm.

"If you back yourself and play every shot well enough, that's how I want to go about my batting."

There is talk that England will have to reshuffle their side to include an extra bowler after failing to dismiss West Indies on what was a glorious batting track.

Victory is a must if England are to avoid the ignominy of a series defeat, as they trail 1-0 with one to play, and it might mean that a batsman has to make way, with Bopara and Owais Shah the likely candidates.

Whatever happens for Bopara, one thing for sure is that his preparation for the Test will be in stark contrast to that at Barbados.

He jetted out to the Caribbean and was immediately thrust into action against the BCA President's XI, smashing 124 not out from just 125 balls.

"I got a bit sleepy at the start of the game, but the physio told me to stay awake and I could sleep later," admitted Bopara.

"So I went in to bat, didn't think too much about it and tried to enjoy myself."

It obviously worked on that occasion, and the talented all-rounder will just be hoping he has done enough to keep his place in the team for Friday's series deciding Test match.

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