x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ravi Bopara pull-out from Lions game adds to England woes

Doubt over Kevin Pietersen’s Test future gives the cricket board selection headache.

Ravi Bopara, seen here in action for England’s Test side in a recent series against the West Indies, had cited personal reasons for pulling out of the Test series against South Africa as well. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Ravi Bopara, seen here in action for England’s Test side in a recent series against the West Indies, had cited personal reasons for pulling out of the Test series against South Africa as well. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

England are having to deal with problems in the middle order of both the Test team and the Lions side.

Only a day after Kevin Pietersen said he was considering his future in Test cricket owing to a fight he is having with the England and Wales Cricket Board, Ravi Bopara pulled out of the Lions' unofficial Test against Australia A, which began yesterday.

Bopara has now pulled out from England teams at the 11th hour twice in the last 10 days, for as yet unspecified "personal reasons".

In fact, the 27-year-old batsman's withdrawal from Lions contention at Old Trafford has come even later than his defection from the Headingley Test – because the four-day match was due to get under way yesterday morning, before rain arrived in Manchester.

Bopara, added to the squad only yesterday as a replacement for James Taylor, said he still feels unable to give cricket his full attention.

"I thought I was ready to return to action – but after some consideration, I just feel it's too early," he said. "So I won't be playing quite yet."

Bopara was widely expected to bat at No 6 for England against South Africa in Leeds, but he pulled out hours before the selectors announced their squad last weekend.

Taylor took his place for a match which resulted in a draw on Monday.

With doubts surrounding the participation of Pietersen in next week's final Test at Lord's – from August 16-20 – there would have been much for Bopara to play for.

But he will not yet get that opportunity, or the outside chance of a Test recall just yet. Australia A's team contain several players expected to be in England again next summer for the Champions Trophy and Ashes - two campaigns in which Essex batsman Bopara too will still be hoping to be involved.

Meanwhile, Pietersen this week made it clear he is unhappy with many aspects of his employment by the ECB, and is prepared to risk his Test career to put them right.

Pietersen denies suggestions his gripes are financially orientated.

"It's absolutely 100 per cent not about money. This is not a money issue," the 32 year old said on BBC's Test Match Special on Monday.

"There are clear things that I'm discussing. But there are other issues that need to be sorted."

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