Door not closed on Bopara

  • Last Updated: August 1 2012, 7:42 BST

England will keep the door open for Ravi Bopara as a Test batsman, despite his 11th-hour defection from their plans to face South Africa in Headingley.

Ravi Bopara: Misses second Test

James Taylor is set for a Test debut, as England's latest incumbent at number six thanks to Bopara's unexpected absence because of unspecified "personal reasons".

Coach Andy Flower was not minded to divulge any more details about the problems Bopara is experiencing.

But he did make it clear that the Essex batsman, yet to establish himself after 13 Tests spread over approaching five years, still has prospects of returning at the highest level.

Bopara's unavailability means Taylor is likely to begin his career in trying circumstances, as England try to bounce back in urgent defence of their world number one status after being trounced by the tourists in the first Investec Test at The Oval last week.

Flower has made it clear Bopara remains in contention, and wished 22-year-old Taylor well too.

"It's disappointing for him [Bopara] obviously, but it opens the door for another player who has come through the Academy system and worked really hard over the years to get his chance," he said.

"It doesn't close the door on Ravi Bopara.

"He's effectively made himself unavailable due to the personal reasons he described to me.

"My job is to help select the side from those available and help prepare them for the Test."

Taylor may therefore become the fifth batsman England have used at number six this year.

"I certainly hope James can make six his spot for a while," said Flower.

"I don't know him that well. I watched him play against Sri Lanka at Derby last year.

"He looks like a young man that understands his game pretty well and he knows how to score runs.

"We don't know how he'll do but we wish him well and hope he has a wonderful international career."

The Nottinghamshire batsman, son of a former jockey, is notable for his diminutive stature - officially 5ft 6in tall.

Flower does not see that physical characteristic as either advantageous or otherwise.

"I think regardless of your height, your skill, nous and determination will see you succeed," he said.

Flower and captain Andrew Strauss have other deliberations to make before the team is announced - significantly the outside possibility of naming an all-seam attack, which would presumably mean a rare Test off for off-spinner Graeme Swann.

South Africa welcomed back captain Graeme Smith, who returned home last week - immediately after the innings-and-12-run victory at The Oval - for the birth of his first child.

All-rounder Albie Morkel is unavailable for this Test match because of an ankle injury, and the tourists have called up batsman Faf du Plessis as cover.