Bopara favourite to replace Collingwood
London: Ravi Bopara`s decision to stay away from the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to work well for his international career as the batsman is tipped to replace Paul Collingwood in the Test squad for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka starting May 26.
Bopara, who turned down the offer from Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, faces tough competition from Eion Morgan and James Hildreth but remains favourite to get the call-up.
"He has made getting back into the Test side as his No1 priority," said England`s batting coach and Bopara`s mentor at Essex Graham Gooch.
"That`s a big statement in itself. If you go and play in the IPL, well, I`m not decrying anyone who does that, but you don`t put yourself in the best position to prepare for Test cricket," the veteran was quoted as saying.
The 26-year-old has not played a Test for England since he got a golden duck in the second innings against Australia at Headingley back in 2009 but his recent blistering form has made him a serious contender for the spot.
The right-handed batsman has scored two centuries in his last two first-class matches and has amassed 408 runs at an average of 45 so far.
Morgan, on the other hand, has just come back from India, where he scored 137 runs in nine innings for the Kolkata Knight Riders and needs to find his feet in the English conditions.
"Initially (this season) Ravi struggled a bit in English conditions. But he has really found his feet now. He is in a good place at the moment with the bat, he looks very confident" said Bopara`s coach at Essex Paul Grayson.
Crucially, Bopara has also been bowling more. He has got through 119 overs in the championship, more than any other Essex player apart from David Masters.
"He is actually quite a canny bowler. He can swing the red ball and he has got a lot of good variations. To me that makes him the perfect replacement for Collingwood," Grayson insisted.