Ravi Bopara’s omission from England’s 15-man squad for the ODI series against India is a real shame, says Bob Willis.
Essex all-rounder Bopara was overlooked for the five-match series, which begins on Monday in Bristol, after averaging 19.50 and taking just one wicket in the 3-2 series defeat to Sri Lanka earlier this summer.
Fellow all-rounder Tim Bresnan was also overlooked but uncapped opener Alex Hales did win a place.
National selector James Whitaker said that the squad for the ICC World Cup, which is no less than six months away, would not be finalised until after this November’s return series against Sri Lanka.
However, former England fast bowler Bob Willis said: “It’s a real shame for Ravi. I think he should be in the squad because he’s very much part of England’s one-day cricket. He should be in that line-up.
“It’s great to see Alex Hales there, though. His season started so disappointingly on loan to Worcester, where he went to play some first-class cricket, but he’s the sort of character I want to see opening the batting with Alastair Cook in Test match cricket for England.
“Otherwise there aren’t too many surprises. It’s good to see Steven Finn coming back into the international scene.”
Former Kent captain David Fulton told Sky Sports News HQ that Bopara can consider himself very unfortunate not to be picked given his versatility and experience, gained in 108 ODI appearances for England.
“Bopara’s absence is a little bit of a surprise because he was carving out a real role for himself as England’s finisher,” he reflected.
“Perhaps the selectors have got that role designated for Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler – and perhaps Eoin Morgan.
“But Bopara has done very little wrong. He’s got plenty of experience, his fiddly medium-pacers are under-rated and he’s very good coming in with seven or eight overs of an innings to go.”
Meanwhile Hales appears set to become skipper Alastair Cook’s new opening partner, forcing Ian Bell to drop down the order.
The 25-year-old is no stranger to England colours having won 32 T20 caps, scoring 1,022 runs at an average of 37.85 and strike-rate of 137.73 – including 99 against the West Indies in 2012 and an unbeaten 116 against Sri Lanka in this year’s World Twenty20 Cup.
“We all know his T20 pedigree – he’s ranked third in the world and he was top for a few months; it’s whether he can translate that 20-over form into the longer form,” reflected Fulton.
“This Royal London Cup has come at a good time and Hales has done remarkably well. He got a brilliant hundred against Middlesex just a few days ago and he got a hundred against Sri Lanka A for the England Lions too.
“He has really hit a purple patch of form. If you are going to play him, now is the time. England have made a bold step. We’re only a few months away from a World Cup and the brand of cricket that Hales brings is a very exciting one. Potentially the next step for him is to play Test cricket.”
Former England opener Mark Butcher welcomed Hales’ inclusion but admitted that otherwise he was rather underwhelmed by the squad.
“I’m slightly disappointed really – Hales is the only name in there that you wouldn’t have expected to see and if you are going to leave out Ravi Bopara, you might want to see one of the other younger chargers like James Vince or Jason Roy in the squad.”
Watch the first ODI between England and India live on Sky Sports from 10am on Sky Sports 2.