Bopara likely to face England recall

Middlewich Guardian: Ravi Bopara is expected to be back in the England Test frame this week Ravi Bopara is expected to be back in the England Test frame this week

It is just as well perhaps, at a time when Kevin Pietersen's on-off limited-overs retirement appears to be causing complications, that England have a pretty straightforward task picking their squad for the first Investec Test.

The upshot of reported discussions between Pietersen's representatives and the England and Wales Cricket Board will doubtless be known soon, certainly by the time an initial list of 30 names is submitted on Wednesday for September's ICC World Twenty20.

Before then, national selector Geoff Miller will announce the 13 from whom England will pick the team to begin the defence of their world Test number one status, against third-placed South Africa at The Oval. And Ravi Bopara is confidently expected, by consensus, to be back in the Test frame this week.

The three-match series is a curiosity in that it will decide who tops the International Cricket Council rankings, in the medium term at least, and is a much-anticipated set-to between two heavyweight teams with especially potent bowling attacks.

A riveting battle is in prospect for those already switched on to its potential; whether three Tests, not the four or even five England-South Africa deserves, will break the radar with more casual audiences before, during and after the Olympics is entirely another matter.

Bopara has not featured since England's visit to the The Oval last year, when Jonathan Trott was injured and Bopara made an unbeaten 44 from number seven as a 4-0 series trouncing of India was completed with an innings victory.

Bopara was an apparent certainty to be back in the number six position at the start of this summer, following Eoin Morgan's loss of form, only to succumb to a thigh injury just before the squad for the first Test against West Indies at Lord's.

The consequence of that was a debut for Jonny Bairstow, and a baptism which resulted in 38 runs from three completed innings - and the emergence of a perceived susceptibility against the short ball after a working-over by Kemar Roach in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

In the Yorkshireman's absence from England's run of victories in successive NatWest Series against the Windies and Australia, Bopara made a persuasive case that he is at the top of his game with more than 200 runs in six innings.

He therefore will be an obvious inclusion in a squad which will on Sunday more than likely cover all bases among the bowling options, rather than include any extra batting permutations.

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