Ravi returns as Essex face Yorkshire

RAVI Bopara is named in a 13-man Essex squad for the match with Yorkshire that begins on Thursday at Headingley.

The stylish batsman has been cleared by the ECB to play for Essex in all forms of the game until the match against Worcestershire Royals on Sunday, May 13 and will make his first appearance of the domestic season although he is unlikely to bowl. Bopara suffered a side whilst batting during a warm-up game on England’s recent tour to Sri Lanka side and will play as a specialist batsman.

“It’ excellent news for us that we have Ravi available,” said Essex head coach Paul Grayson.

“He’s not played too much cricket over the winter and we are delighted to have him with us. He’ll bat at number 4 at Headingley and Mark Pettini has to make way for him in this game. It’s unfortunate for Mark but that’s the nature of having good competition for places.

“It’s what we want, it keeps everyone on their toes and I’d much rather have this type of headache of who to leave out and long may that continue.”

Charl Willoughby is also named in the squad and, if selected, will make his first LV= County Championship appearance for Essex following his winter move from Somerset. The new ball left-armer was forced to sit out the win against Gloucestershire in the opening match of the season due to a slight groin strain.

“We’ll not name the team until we’ve seen what conditions are like up there but we have plenty of options throughout the squad which is a nice situation to have,” Grayson continued.

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“It was nice to get that win on the board against Gloucestershire and although we know it will be a tough game against Yorkshire, who are the favourites to go up, we are full of confidence at the moment. That’s really important and we are all really looking forward to the game. If we keep doing what we have so far this season, we’ll be fine.”

Yorkshire were relegated from the top-flight at the end of the 2011 campaign but were installed by the bookmakers as pre-season favourites to regain their higher status at the first attempt. Essex are determined to bring Division One cricket back to Chelmsford in 2013 and an absorbing match at the Carnegie Stadium is in prospect.

Essex have a poor record in LV= County Championship matches against Yorkshire with just 25 victories form the 160 encounters whilst Yorkshire have recorded 85 successes. One match was abandoned.

The last time that the two teams met in the LV= County Championship was at The Ford County Ground in 2010 in Division One. On that occasion, a gripping match ended in a draw after the visitors had been set 369 runs to win from a minimum of 83 overs. With 10 of those overs remaining, they looked likely winners but the loss of three wickets inside four overs left them to defend and bat out time before they finished on 333 for seven.

Earlier that season, at Scarborough, the White Rose County had recorded victory by an innings and 96 runs having scored 516 before dismissing their opponents for 206 and 214.

Essex squad: James Foster (capt/wkt), Alviro Petersen, Billy Godleman, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, Adam Wheater, Greg Smith, Graham Napier, David Masters, Tim Phillips, Charl Willoughby, Maurice Chambers, Tymal Mills.

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