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Gooch backing beneficiary Bopara

PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 February 2015

Graham Gooch with Ravi Bopara during his time as England batting coach (pic: Gareth Copley/PA)

Graham Gooch with Ravi Bopara during his time as England batting coach (pic: Gareth Copley/PA)

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Former Essex and England captain praises protege

England's Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara at Lord's (pic: Anthony Devlin/PA)England's Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara at Lord's (pic: Anthony Devlin/PA)

Former Essex and England captain Graham Gooch has lent his support to Ravi Bopara, who is currently chasing World Cup glory in Australia.

Former Hainault & Clayhall youngster Bopara has been given a benefit year by the county in 2015 and Gooch feels it is no more than he deserves.

He said: “I would like to think I had a little bit of influence on his career. I first came across Ravi in 2001. He was a young 16-year-old in our academy.

“He came onto our staff at 17 and as his coach I gave him his first-class debut at Northampton when he was 17.

England's Ravi Bopara appeals for a wicket during a one-day international against Australia (pic: Martin Rickett/PA)England's Ravi Bopara appeals for a wicket during a one-day international against Australia (pic: Martin Rickett/PA)

“It was very obvious in the early days that this boy had something special. He had time to play his shots and balance at the crease, superb timing.

“You could just see from the way he moved, the way he shaped up, he had something special.”

Bopara has been a mainstay of the Essex side over the past decade and broke into England’s one-day side in 2007 before scoring three successive Test centuries against the West Indies.

And Gooch, England’s all-time leading run scorer in Tests, is not surprised by Bopara’s progress, adding: “He has evolved as a player, playing for England and Essex. It is quite scary to think it has been 13 years.

“He has been successful with Essex. I suppose now, looking at him approaching 30, he has got a lot of one-day internationals (119) under his belt and a handful of Test matches (13).

“I would like to have seen him establish himself more with England. He has had a lot of chances, he has batted all the way down the order from opening to six or seven.

“His bowling has been an extra string to his bow in one-day cricket.”

Despite that, Bopara was left out of England’s side for their World Cup opener against hosts Australia at the weekend, as they suffered a heavy 111-run defeat.

England are due to meet New Zealand in the early hours of Friday morning and Gooch would love to see Bopara achieve the biggest prize in the sport.

He added: ““He is a quite an infectious cricketer, you couldn’t get the bat out of his hand. He would be in the nets the whole time, sometimes to his detriment because too much practice and not the right structured practice is not ideal for him.

“He is certainly a crowd-pleaser when you watch his skills. He backs himself. If you look at his career now, compared to his contemporaries, I would like to have seen him be more successful because his talent demands that.”

The launch event for Ravi Bopara’s benefit year takes place at Stock Brook Manor on Saturday March 21.

Tickets are £75 each, with tables of 10 available. See boparabenefit.com for more information.

n Graham Gooch was talking on behalf of Sporting Celebrities to raise money for Haven House, in High Road, Woodford Green.


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