ESSEX’S Ravi Bopara was yesterday rewarded for his sparkling one-day form for England with a call- up to the squad for the opening Test against South Africa, starting on Thursday at the Oval.
Bopara excelled with both bat and ball during the one-day international series against Australia that ended last week, averaging over 45 runs per innings and claiming four wickets across the four days.
Having shrugged off injury concerns from earlier in the year, Bopara comes into the 13-man squad at the expense of Jonny Bairstow, who failed to impress selectors during the early summer’s Tests against West Indies.
Bairstow was given a surprise opportunity during the series, which England won 2-0, yet scored only 38 runs.
Selector Geoff Miller yesterday hailed Bopara’s diligence ahead of his potential return to the Test side. “Ravi has worked hard to regain his place in the Test squad following some injury concerns earlier in the season and is the only player included who is yet to play a Test match this summer,” Miller said.
The squad also includes five fast bowlers – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Graham Onions.
South Africa yesterday drew their warm up tour match against Kent. The visitors made 314 runs in their first innings at Canterbury, yet could not bowl out the hosts twice before the day came to a close.