England bring in Bopara for injured Morgan
Ravi Bopara has replaced the injured Eoin Morgan in England’s World Cup squad after the former Ireland batsman was ruled out of the tournament with a broken finger on Tuesday.
Tests revealed Morgan had cracked the middle finger of his left hand during the fourth one-day international against Australia in Adelaide last month.
Initially, England thought the injury would heal in time for the World Cup, which gets underway in the Indian sub-continent on February 19.
But when Morgan experienced more pain, medical staff investigated further and, after he had played two further matches, discovered the fracture.
The 24-year-old will have the finger operated on and is out of the entire World Cup.
Morgan has been England’s most successful one-day batsman since making his debut in 2009 but coach Andy Flower insisted Bopara would be a valuable addition to the squad.
Flower, speaking shortly after England returned from Australia, told reporters at Heathrow Airport here on Tuesday: “It is a serious loss to us.
“He (Morgan) has been a very influential limited overs performer for us since he joined the England team.
“But no-one is irreplaceable and Ravi Bopara is a very exciting and talented player. He will also bring a little bit of medium-paced bowling which will help out the captain in those middle overs.
“We are confident that the 15 guys we have out there will gel together and perform very powerfully,” former Zimbabwe batsman Flower added.
All-rounder Bopara got the vote ahead of his Essex colleague Alastair Cook who scored over 700 runs in England’s 3-1 Ashes Test series win in Australia but cannot command a regular one-day place.
“He (Cook) is in great form and he was one of the batsmen discussed but Bopara’s limited overs virtues see him selected,” Flower explained.
Flower reported that England’s other walking wounded Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett, a World Cup reserve, should all be fit for the team’s first match of the tournament proper against the Netherlands in Nagpur on February 22.
Bopara will return from the West Indies where he is playing with the England Lions, the national A side, and join up with the World Cup squad who fly to Dhaka on Saturday.
England captain Andrew Strauss, a team mate of Morgan’s at Middlesex, revealed his friend’s gloom at missing out.
“In the last 12 to 18 months he has been the stand-out performer for us in one-day cricket,” Strauss, bidding to become the first England captain to win the World Cup, said.
“We all see the World Cup as a forum to showcase your skills, so he is bitterly disappointed to be missing out.
“It is the nature of the beast that you are going to get injuries and his has come along at a bad time for him.
“Thankfully, he is a young bloke who has plenty of other opportunities ahead of him but for the time being we are going to have make do without him. It is something we have prepared for.
“Ravi has not had a chance to play for us recently. He has been playing a lot of cricket around the world and he is desperate to get back in the ranks. This is his opportunity.
“We like what he can bring to the game, both with his (seam) bowling and his ability to clear the ropes in the middle overs, which is going to be important. He will be a valued addition to our squad.”
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