Swann backs Bopara return
Graeme Swann is banking on Ravi Bopara to regain his England Test place despite having to pull out of contention to face South Africa at Headingley.
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Bopara's defection from the squad for the second Investec Test came in mysterious circumstances, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing only unspecified "personal reasons".
In the absence of any clarification, some fear time may be beginning to run out for 27-year-old Bopara - who has yet to establish himself after 13 Tests.
Team-mate Swann, however, is not among those doubting the middle-order batsman's future at the highest level.
"It is sad for Rav," he said.
"He's been in brilliant nick - stupendous form, I think, until the Test match obviously.
"I was backing him to score heavily this summer, because of the way he'd been playing in those one-dayers.
"He just seemed to have found something.
"He will be back - this won't be it, for him. I'd put my mortgage on it."
Bopara's last-minute unavailability left England in need of a replacement number six at a crucial stage of their table-topping series against South Africa.
They chose Swann's Nottinghamshire team-mate James Taylor, in line for a debut as England seek an immediate response to their embarrassing innings defeat in the first match of three at the Oval last week.
Swann has no doubt about 22-year-old Taylor's credentials.
"I have seen a limited amount of him to make my judgement - but from what I have seen, I think he is a cracking little player," he said.
"I'm absolutely delighted for him, because he is a genuinely good bloke - and I think he's a good player, a serious player.
"It's all about taking your opportunities, and I'd back him to do it."
Only a rethink about the balance of England's team could keep Taylor out of it in Leeds.
Swann does accept that outside chance, especially if it means a return for fast bowler Steven Finn.
"I suppose you could argue there will be calls for it in some quarters, after taking two wickets in 180 overs," said the off-spinner, reflecting on England's Oval misadventure.
"But I don't think we should change a great deal; I don't think we should hit the panic button - because what we have done, even through the period of fairly poor results, we have still bowled well and bowled teams out twice.
"It's horses for courses' ... if it's going to swing around, then pick five seamers and give me a week off!
"Finny is probably the unluckiest man in world cricket, not to be regularly playing, and you could argue that he is up there with the best bowlers in the world.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he got a go here. Instead of whom, I don't know, and what the make-up might be - but if he does play I think he will do a good job."