Bopara fighting to reclaim long-term spot from Bairstow

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Ravi Bopara needs a productive and healthy NatWest Series more than most – to help convince England of his Test match as well as his one-day international viability.

He admits it was “depressing” to sit on the sidelines, after suffering a calf niggle before the squad was announced for the first of three Investec Tests against West Indies.

The No 6 position, which seemed sure to be his, went instead to Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow.

But scroll on a month and Bopara – fit again and back in form for Essex – has the chance to prove his mettle and durability once more in an England ODI middle order which will also contain Bairstow.

“It was very depressing in a way,” said Bopara of the latest in a string of minor injuries which have interrupted his England availability in recent months.

The 27-year-old unsurprisingly objects to the theory that a significant Test career might slip away from him.

“I’ve said before that I’m not worried about the players coming through,” he said.

“I know what I’m capable of, and that is up to me.

“My Test career is in my own hands, and not anyone who is coming through.”

Bopara is nonetheless well aware that a successful three-match series against the Windies, set to get under way at the Rose Bowl today, will hardly go amiss.

“I would love to be playing Test cricket for England again,” he said.

“There are no guarantees – I’ve got to prove myself and score runs.

“It would be great if I could score heavily in this series and the Australian series.

“It would put me in a good place – ideal.”

Bopara, pictured, is not concerned yet either by his sudden run of injuries.

“It has been quite frustrating,” he said.

“But obviously I’m not injury prone. I’m fit, I’m strong, I can dive around and jump around without getting injured better than most.”

Bopara, and others, have an obvious chance to press their claims in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, who has shocked world cricket by announcing his limited-overs retirement.

The tourists, meanwhile, welcome back their own game-changer, with destructive opener Chris Gayle set to play for his country for the first time in 15 months after settling his differences with the West Indies board.

Coach Ottis Gibson has no qualms about the return of such a charismatic character to a team who have had to move on without him.

“He has always been a bit of a joker and prankster around the dressing room,” he said.

“He is his normal self, and the team has always integrated guys very well. That has not changed. He has fitted in well and is raring to go.

“He has had his say. He said what he wanted to say and got things off his chest.

“He has seen the new environment. He has seen what we are trying to do.

“I am sure that coming back he will buy into it. We have spoken, and he is very much on board with what is going on.”