Exclusive: Bopara happy with season opener

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Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara has told GiveMeSport he is delighted to pick up a win in the first game of the County Championship season but it came with its own frustrations for the England Test Match hopeful.

An Alastair Cook inspired performance helped lead Essex to a 53 win run over Derbyshire at the County Ground in Chelmsford with the England captain scoring 181 in the second innings after his side were blown away for just 94 on the first day.

Bopara scored 48 in his second knock of the match in a crucial partnership with Cook and showed signs of form after returning from England and the World T20. The next three first-class games are hugely important for Bopara as he looks to win back his place in the Test side.

The 28-year-old’s last game in the whites for his country was against South Africa in July of 2012 and has openly spoken about his ambition to regain his place back. He knows it will not be easy with a number of young players pressing for a spot in the England batting order such as Sam Robson, Gary Ballance and James Taylor while Eoin Morgan is also fighting to win his Test spot back.

Bopara’s focus is on scoring runs and helping Essex to early season victories and after beating Derby, he spoke of his delight at starting the season in a positive fashion, despite his own frustrations.

“This win has given us a great start to the season because historically we haven’t had a positive start to the year so we can kick on because this has given confidence to everyone. A few people have got scores in terms of reaching 40 or 50 and everyone is looking in good nick which is handy,” he exclusively told GiveMeSport.

“Personally, it is always frustrating when you get to forty odd and get out but it has been one of those games, there haven’t been too many big scores. It would have been nice to kick on and get a bit score but there is another game next week and I just have to think about that to be honest.”

The fixture also saw a return to the County Championship for Cook who top scored in both innings for Essex and Bopara explained how vital it is to have experience at this stage of the season.

“Cooky played really well and got us into a position to win the game,” Bopara told GiveMeSport.

“You want your senior players to score big runs and Cooky did that against Derby. Our senior boys have come to the party with the ball as well, especially in that first innings with Dave (Masters) taking six wickets. Those are the sorts of performances you are looking for and we are in a good place right now.”

Things could have been different for the East London boy who owns a pair of chicken shops because he was entered into the Indian Premier League auction. He wasn’t bought by a franchise and as it turned out the only Englishman to play in this year’s tournament will be Kevin Pietersen.

It was a win-win situation for Bopara because he now has the chance to show the England selectors what he can do in the longest form of the game.

“Playing in the IPL would have been great but I have an opportunity to knock on the door of the Test side so it is a big few weeks for myself and for Essex.

“The thing is we want a big start in the first six weeks before our international boys head off. We will lose Cooky, hopefully I am picked so me and we could lose the likes of Monty in the Test team as well. We do lose players to the England team at Essex and it does affect our season.

“If we get off to a good start then it will put us in a good place before that happens.”

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