Cricket: Bopara’s determined to keep his England place

England's Ravi Bopara during a press conference at the team hotel, Bangalore, India.
England's Ravi Bopara during a press conference at the team hotel, Bangalore, India.
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Ravi Bopara is determined to help England keep the winning habit and make sure they cannot ignore his claims to a place in their best side.

Bopara knows, despite his match-clinching unbeaten 30 against Holland in England’s opening World Cup Group B match, he is far from certain to retain his place against tournament favourites India on Sunday.

But should he make the cut again, ahead of second spin option Mike Yardy, the middle-order batsman insists even a capacity crowd roaring on the hosts at the 38,000 capacity M Chinnaswamy Stadium will not intimidate him.

Bopara’s return in Nagpur on Tuesday came about only after he was called up as a squad replacement for the injured Eoin Morgan, and ended a run of nine one-day internationals out of the team.

In that time England lost 6-1 in Australia; yet when Bopara found himself back in the reckoning, against Pakistan a warm-up and then the Dutch, it instantly felt like business as usual for him.

Happened

“I wasn’t there in Australia to comment on what happened there – but as soon as I arrived with the team, it’s been back to what I’m used to seeing – which is winning,” he said.

“These last two or three years England have been excellent in one-day cricket.

“I’m used to winning with England – and that’s what we’ve done so far.”

The 25-year-old is already a veteran of one World Cup campaign, has 55 ODI caps to his name and 10 Test appearances.

But he has not been able to establish any permanence in the side, and could be forgiven perhaps for fretting a little over each new chance he is given.

That is clearly not his nature, though, and he said: “I don’t think it’s now or never. I’m not guaranteed a place next game. There might be a change to the team. But if I’m performing day in day out in county cricket, then I can’t be ignored.”

Bopara’s up-and-down international career suffered its biggest blip when he was dropped during the 2009 Ashes, having been identified as England’s number three batsman at the start of the series.

“I’ve done a lot of work since then,” he added.

“I’ve learnt not to put too much pressure on myself.

“In the Ashes, I batted at three and just expected too much from myself.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself – and it didn’t work out.”

That will not be happening here.

Bopara is full of hope, but no fear, as he seeks to do England proud in the land of his fathers.

“It definitely won’t intimidate me. I’ve played in this atmosphere before, in the IPL and last time we were here with England.

“It’s very noisy. You can’t have a conversation with the players on the pitch – it’s all hand signals and that sort of stuff. But it’s fine.

“If the crowd are enjoying it, it pumps you up as well – because you want them to enjoy it.

“At the end of the day, you’re an entertainer. You want to entertain.”

His IPL experience with the Kings XI Punjab means he feels increasingly at home in India and on Indian pitches.

“Without a doubt it’s definitely made me a better player.

“It’s made me more confident coming to the sub-continent.

“I just know what the pitches are likely to do. You can play a different way to the way you play in England.

“You can certainly be a little bit more aggressive against the seam bowling.

“They are just generally better pitches to bat on. I wish I could bat here every day.”

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