Ravi Bopara touched down in one of his favourite destinations in the world over the weekend with the England squad to take on the West Indies before the World T20 next month.
The all-rounder has been a key member of the England one day team with his big hitting with the bat and crucial knack of taking wickets in the middle overs with the ball since his debut in 2007.
Now at the age of 28, Bopara is set to make his 100th ODI appearance for his country on Friday in Antigua which is the first of three 50 over contests before a trio of T20s as the build up to the World T20 intensifies.
With Ashley Giles at the helm, the country will be looking to bounce back after a disastrous tour of Australia with England only winning one of the 13 games played across all three forms of the game.
With the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Joe Root and Chris Jordan all in the current ODI side Bopara is one of the experienced heads in the England camp and he says he can’t wait to get started in Antigua tomorrow in a warm up fixture against University of West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI.
“I’ve been to the Caribbean about four or five times now, it is one of the best places to tour, certainly up there,” Bopara told GiveMeSport in an exclusive interview.
“Australia is good, Dubai was very good and this is another one of those.
“In terms of the weather, the beaches, the people and the music and vibe at the grounds it is a great cricket environment.
“The music is loud and clear, the fans are unbelievable and it’s a great place to play cricket, a really cool place.”
The Essex man played in every limited overs fixture down under after featuring for the Sydney Sixers in the Australian Big Bash League but the man himself hold GiveMeSport people shouldn’t dwell on that tour.
“I wouldn’t read too much into the losses in Australia, this team has better performances in it and a lot of people will see that over the next 12 months. We have a very good team and that stuff in Australia will be forgotten about very quickly.
“It is a very exciting time for England and with things not going well in the Tests in Australia that leaves a few gaps for people to come in and excel. I’m hoping that I can get in there, I’d love to play Test Cricket again, I don’t want anyone else to get it, I’m going to push for that.”
The next few months are crucial for Bopara’s career with him being a serious contender to replace Kevin Pietersen in the Test fold he knows if he impresses in the West Indies, Bangladesh then for his county at the start of the season he has a good chance of returning to the five day arena.
He could he helped by one of his old teammates in Paul Collingwood, the current Durham captain is assisting limited overs head coach Giles in the next two tours before the county season gets under way in April.
Both Collingwood and Bopara have played a very similar role in the England side, coming in late in the innings to either provide momentum to set a competitive total or to take their side to victory while chipping in with crucial wickets with their medium pacers.
The east London boy admitted to GiveMeSport he looked at Collingwood for inspiration earlier in his career so is looking forward to working with him over the next two months.
“We are similar kinds of cricketers, I watched him bowl and I thought ‘I can do that, and maybe I can do that better’. Actually watching him did trigger me to sort my body out and to work even harder.”
The tour fixture starts at 1.30pm GMT on Tuesday with a strong side expected as preparation for the opening ODI at the same venue, Sir Vivian Richard Stadium, Antigua.
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