Exclusive: Bopara speaks ahead of 100th ODI

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Ravi Bopara is set to play in his 100th One Day International on Friday as England open up their tour of the West Indies in Antigua.

The all-rounder has exclusively told GiveMeSport he believes he can double that tally whilst discussing his highlights to date ahead of reaching the prestigious milestone.

The 28-year-old made his debut at Sydney in 2007 and has gone on to be one of the first names on the 50 over team sheet which was backed up by winning the Most Valuable England ODI Player at the 2013 PCA awards.

He will be involved in a crucial few months for this England side as they look to get over the dismal tour of Australia where they only won a single game from 13 played down under. Signs are positive though after stand-in captain Stuart Broad led his side to a 29 run win over a Vice Chancellors XI on Tuesday.

Youngster Joe Root was the star of the show on that occasion with an unbeaten 104 which backed up Ben Stokes positivity with a well-made 58 to help set a target of 290. A similar side is expected to line up tomorrow but there is an injury doubt over Eoin Morgan.

The Middlesex one day captain did not practice on Thursday due to a knee complaint and could be replaced by Worcestershire batsman Moeen Ali for an England debut.

That could mean Bopara stays in the lower middle order, a position he feels comfortable in but he admitted to GiveMeSport he would love to bat higher in the order in build up to the three game series.

“I do want to bat up the order, I wish I could go in at four and bat through the innings. I know now that once I get in I can score at a good rate and I know I can help England get bigger totals.

“I haven’t read up much but it would be good if we could move up the order I think to help post those big scores and instead of goingninto those last overs only facing a few balls if we could have faced 50 or 60 balls it’s a different story then and we could be hard to bowl at.”

The Essex man has been part of one of the most successful eras the country has ever had in cricket. The 2010 T20 World Cup win along with making the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 while also being involved in the 2009 Ashes series victory over Australia.

Bopara debuted little over seven years ago before making his Test debut later than year and T20 bow in 2008 and with the dynamic batsman reaching 100 appearances in the 50 over format he discussed a selection of his highlights to GiveMeSport.

“My debut was great, I remember bowling Hussey on my debut, you’d think I would have done something with the bat but no I bowled Hussey at Sydney so that was one of the highlights of my career.

“Also playing in the major competitions like the World Cups and the Champions Trophies, the hundred against Ireland from the position we were in and we ended up winning easy along with Morgs.

“I’d like to think I have a few more too, I love playing in India is a highlight because it is one of the best places to play in the world.

“I’d regard the whole Champions Trophy as right up there it was a really enjoyable few weeks. The atmosphere at some of the games at The Oval was insane and hitting 28 off that over against Sri Lanka was a massive highlight.

“Any game that I’ve got Man of the Match in is also a standout achievement I guess and beating Australia 4-0 in they came over here and played a random five match series so that series was a big few weeks in my career.”

Despite such an array of plus points in his career the man himself is far from satisfied, Bopara has one century to his name but he craves for more, he wants to bat higher in the order and take more wickets with the ball.

Interestingly, the all-rounder has bowled in 40 of England’s last 41 innings but only bowled a delivery in 59 of 99 games overall, suggesting he is more crucial than ever to this side. The ‘finisher’ has also had 18 not outs in his ODI career and he is the only player on the current tour who played in his debut in 2007 but he is striving for more.

“I want to score hundreds for England, that’s what I want to do. I can score them for Essex and on a consistent basis, so now I feel I can do it now at that level and the biggest thing to do is to believe because once you have that belief that you can that’s when you will and I’m at that stage now.

“I want to take more wickets too, when I first came in I wasn’t regarded as a proper bowler then, and in fairness I wasn’t good enough, I’d just get by for Essex but playing international cricket you start to realise what you need to do to be effective at this level.

"I’m never going to have that pace so I need to learn other things so I went away and learnt some tricks to be effective because I’m not going to beat people by pace.”

Meanwhile, on the eve of his century of ODI appearances Bopara was asked by GiveMeSport if he felt he could double his England appearances in the shorter formats of the game.

“100 per cent, I’m only 28 and I have a lot of cricket left in me but the most important thing for England is for us to keep winning, we have to keep winning because that is what will keep this team together leading up to the World Cup, after the world cup I am sure this team can do it.”

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