Bopara wants to be England's 'main man'

Ravi Bopara’s average may have taken a battering from Australia’s bowlers but the Essex batsman’s self-belief remains intact.

“I don’t want to get scores that just do enough to give England a chance to win, I want to go out and seal the win for England,” he said on Thursday.

“That is my ambition and I am desperate to do that. Not over-desperate because that’s when things can go wrong, but I want to be the main man for England.”

The 24-year-old was dropped from the Test side that won last month’s Ashes decider at the Oval but retained his place at the top of England’s one-day international batting order.

However, England’s collective lack of runs is the main reason why they are currently 3-0 down in their seven-game ODI series against world champions Australia.

Bopara managed just 10 here at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday when, after hitting a straight six, he holed out trying to repeat the stroke in a match England eventually lost by six wickets.

Getting a start but not producing a big innings has been a recurring theme for Bopara, who in 11 ODIs this year has six times been out between 35 and 49—his top score.

But he said what mattered most was the success of the side as a whole.

“What you are trying to do is win a game for England. There is absolutely no point me getting a hundred if we lose.
It does me no favours,” Bopara added.

“Personally I want to go out and get a big one and win games for England. Winning is everything.”

Bopara, having hit three consecutive Test hundreds against the West Indies, found the Australia attack a tougher proposition during the Ashes and managed just 105 runs in four innings before being dropped for the Oval finale.

“I know form does take a dip now and then but I don’t doubt my ability,” he said. “I know I can play, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing for England and I would never have got a look in.

“It is just a case of getting my game in order. There is a lot to come from me yet,” Bopara insisted.

England captain Andrew Strauss’s 63 has been his side’s best score of the ODI series so far and an improvement is likely to be needed if Australia are not to go an unbeatable 4-0 up at Lord’s on Saturday.

However, Bopara said: “I think we can still pull this out of the fire. England always respond well when we are down.”

England are currently without star batsman Kevin Pietersen because of an Achilles injury.

Whilst they just about coped with the South Africa-born shotmaker’s absence for most of the Ashes, England are undeniably missing Pietersen’s big-hitting and ability to score quickly in the one-day format.

“KP is world-class and leaves a hole to be filled,” Strauss said after Wednesday’s latest setback.

“But other guys are getting a chance now and it’s important that as a group they make up him not being here and take their opportunity. We haven’t done that well enough so far.”

England had high hopes that Joe Denly would reinvigorate their ODI batting order. But the Kent opener has been on the sidelines this series after sustaining a knee injury when tackled by England teammate Owais Shah during a football warm-up at the Oval last week.

Strauss said Denly was “touch and go” for Lord’s but added he expected to have Stuart Broad back in the side after the all-rounder missed the last two matches with a neck injury.—AFP

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