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Cricket: Bopara ready to seize England chance

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ravi Bopara promised to make the most of his latest England lifeline after he was the surprise inclusion in the hosts' 15-man squad for next month's ICC Champions Trophy and the preceding one-day series with New Zealand.

Essex all-rounder Bopara has not played a 50-overs-a-side international since September and the stylish batsman and handy medium-pacer had not been selected in either of England one-day coach Ashley Giles's two previous squads in the format since the former Test spinner took charge of the limited overs side.

It seemed Bopara was fighting for his international future but he edged out fellow all-rounders Samit Patel, Luke Wright and Rikki Clarke.

Bopara's last four one-day international innings saw him manage just 22 runs in total at home to South Africa and he was omitted from the ODI squads for the recent tours of India and New Zealand.

However, the all-rounder, 28 on Saturday, has a career batting average of over 30 in 83 ODIs and prior to his South Africa slump that same English season he scored 182 runs at an average of 91 against Australia.

Now Bopara believes he is more ready than ever to seize the latest chance of a stop-start England career.

"I'm in the best place at the moment," he told Sky Sports. "I'm very happy. I'm loving my game.

"It can be frustrating (being in and out of the team) but it didn't help that my problems came up at the back end of last summer.

"I played well against the Aussies. I felt 'right this is it, I'm at the top of my game now' and then a few things happened and it set me back.

"I feel like I'm back in that place again where I have to do what I did at the front end of the summer against the Aussies. There's no reasons why I can't."

Earlier, England national selector Geoff Miller explained Bopara's recall by saying: "He's been given another opportunity because we know what he's capable of doing.

"He's got all assets to his game -- there's the bowling aspect which has come on very, very well; batting-wise we know what he's capable of doing and he's very good in the field as well. He adds strength to the squad," the ex-England off-spinner added.

Bopara's inclusion aside, there were few surprises, with off-spinner Graeme Swann and seamer Tim Bresnan both recalled following elbow problems.

As expected, rising Yorkshire batting star Joe Root was included with star stroke-maker Kevin Pietersen already ruled out of the Champions Trophy because of a knee injury.

Jos Buttler was given the chance to cement his claim to be England's one-day wicketkeeper, with Test gloveman Matt Prior again omitted from a limited overs squad. Yorkshire batsman Jonny Bairstow will provide back-up with the gloves.

England have never won a major 50-over tournament and the three-time losing World Cup finalists were beaten by the West Indies at The Oval in the climax of the last Champions Trophy staged in England in 2004.

A side again set to be captained by left-handed opening batsman Alastair Cook play the first of three one-dayers against New Zealand at Lord's on May 31 before opening their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia at Edgbaston on June 8.

England squad for New Zealand one-day series and the ICC Champions Trophy:

Alastair Cook (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wkt), Steven Finn, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes

Fixtures

NatWest ODI Series v New Zealand

May 31: 1st ODI, Lord's

June 02: 2nd ODI, Ageas Bowl, Southampton

June 03: 3rd ODI, Trent Bridge

England's ICC Champions Trophy group matches

June 08: v Australia, Edgbaston

June 13: v Sri Lanka, The Oval

June 16: v New Zealand, Cardiff

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