Ravi Bopara has been recalled for the Champions Trophy as part of England’s 15-man squad. There is also a place for Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire allrounder, while Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann are back after their respective elbow surgeries.
Bopara was dropped after the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka at the end of a difficult period for him which included him withdrawing from the Test squad against South Africa last summer for personal reasons. His batting form faded dramatically towards the latter part of the 2012 English season, although his bowling proved increasingly effective in one-day cricket. Against South Africa he made scores of 16, 0, 6 and 0 having earlier had a productive series against Australia.
Last week he was named in the England Lions squad to face New Zealand, an indication he was firmly in the selectors’ thoughts, although his batting returns in the early stages of the Championship season have been unconvincing with 118 runs at 23.60. In his 83-match ODI career Bopara has made 1899 runs at 30.62 and taken 20 wickets at 37.25.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: “He’s been given another opportunity because we know what’s he capable of doing,” he told Sky Sports News. “He’s got all aspects to his game – the bowling has come on very well – batting-wise, we know what he can do and he’s good in the field as well. But let’s not talk about one person, this is a squad and it’s about them all performing.”
It is difficult to see where Bopara fits into the starting XI unless he is entrusted as a fifth bowler at No. 7 or forces his way past the in-form Joe Root. However, Root’s start to the season and early days of his ODI career make him very difficult to leave out. In the absence of Kevin Pietersen, Root, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler will need to provide the spark in the middle order.