Cricket: Ravi Bopara back to his youth

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RAVI Bopara admits he feels like a teenager again and is ready to prove England were right to include him in their Champions Trophy squad.

The Essex all-rounder was a surprise inclusion in a 15-man party announced by the hosts on Friday, having played no part in either of the touring squads since Ashley Giles took over as limited-overs coach.

His last appearance in a 50-over international came last September, when a return of just 22 runs in four matches against South Africa saw him moved to the periphery.

And Bopara did nothing to confirm that the England selectors were right as he failed to star for Essex against Hampshire in a nine-wicket defeat in the Yorkshire Bank 40 Group B match at Chelmsford on Friday, scoring six and failing to take a wicket.

He has been in and out of the England set-up in all three formats since making his debut in 2007, but must have wondered if he would get another chance after personal problems contributed to his sharp decline 
last year.

Now, having edged out Samit Patel, Rikki Clarke and Luke Wright, he believes he has put those issues behind him.

Bopara celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday but feels the enthusiasm of a much younger man.

“I’m loving my cricket. I feel 16 again,” Bopara told BBC radio. “This is a chance for me to get back in the squad and nail my spot.”