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DON'T PANIC! Ravi is out to prove he can be England's Big Bopar all over again.

Byline: DEAN WILSON

IT USED to be Corporal Jones who told Captain Mainwaring not to panic, but this week Ravi Bopara will be repeating that mantra to himself.

With Kevin Pietersen now just a footnote in the 2009 Ashes series, the spotlight is falling squarely on Bopara, who has yet to make the sort of impact a Test No.3 should.

And the lack of a decent score in the Ashes has raised some uncomfortable questions about his place in the team.

"I think Bopara is one more bad game away from being dropped," thundered Shane Warne in his newspaper column yesterday.

A couple of games might not normally warrant such close examination, but this is Ashes cricket which means the attention and scrutiny is more than Bopara is used to.

"At the moment, I worry he looks a bit glazed over in the eyes and he's deliberately trying not to appear too frenetic," said Nasser Hussain.

"A little wake-up call is all that's needed, because England can't afford another collapse."

Anyone would think Bopara has forgotten how to hold a bat. Yet Bopara understands why the questions are being asked over four innings and a top score of just 35, but he is not letting it faze him.

He has total confidence that a big score awaits at Edgbaston, and with the experience of recording three consecutive ducks in Sri Lanka at the start of his Test career, he is refusing to panic now.

"When I was in Sri Lanka it was tough," said Bopara. "Other players can tell you what it is like, but until you go through it yourself you don't know how a bad trot is going to affect you and, yes, I panicked in Sri Lanka.

"I was tearing myself up inside asking 'what happened there?' and stuff like that, but having gone through that I now know not to panic and to just take it in your stride. You learn to not make it so important. Cricket is a tough game and not every day is going to be sweetness and light. You can't always come out all guns blazing and you have to accept that.

"I've been through bad times before and I've certainly been through worse than not getting a score in a couple of matches."

Bopara's first brief taste of Test cricket taught him some valuable lessons. So much so that the next three games brought him three hundreds against the West Indies.

"It wasn't long ago that I was scoring a hundred in a Test match, let alone scoring three in a row so that fills me with confidence for what I can do in this series," added Bopara, while helping kids at npower's urban cricket facility at Highgate Park, Birmingham.

"Those recent memories of scoring Test hundreds is something I will use to help me here and hopefully I will get a score, but if I don't, I'm not going to panic about it.

"I feel there is a score round the corner and it is up to me to go and pick it up. I don't feel like I'm batting badly at the moment and I'm not scratching around.

"I'm going to keep doing the same things, getting my preparation right, keeping my basics at the front of what I'm trying to do and it will come from there.

"You have to learn to enjoy the good moments then the times that aren't so good shouldn't be spent in a corner worrying about it because that won't help you."

RAVI'S ASHES

CARDIFF

35 c Hughes b Johnson Conned by a slower ball that he drove too early and looped it up to point. 1 lbw Hilfenhaus Rapped on the top of his pad as the ball nipped away a touch.

LORD'S

18 lbw Hilfenhaus Deceived by the old three-card trick. A few away swingers followed by the in-ducker that foxed him.

27 c Katich b Hauritz Got cramped for room with a straighter and slower ball from the spinner that he gloved to short leg.

INNINGS: 4 RUNS: 81 AVERAGE: 20.25
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2009
Words:684
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