Ravi Bopara needs England backing, says Mark Ramprakash
Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash says Ravi Bopara needs the backing and patience of selectors to realise his potential in the international game.
Bopara, 27, was dismissed for a six-ball duck on the second day of the first Test against South Africa.
That was his first appearance in the England Test team for almost a year and Ramprakash believes the all-rounder now needs a consistent run in the side.
"He can play in all formats. He needs to be backed," said Ramprakash.
Bopara has been in and out of the five-day side - winning just 13 caps in five years.
He made his debut against Sri Lanka in 2007, but was dropped after a run of low scores in the series and did not earn a recall until two years later when he scored three consecutive hundreds against the West Indies, earning himself a place at number three for the 2009 Ashes.
However, after a difficult time against Australia he was dropped once again and, barring his recall against India last summer to cover for the injured Jonathan Trott, he has had to wait until the South Africa series to finally become first choice again, this time at number six.
"Ravi should be compared to me because he scored three hundreds and was then pushed in at three," Ramprakash, who scored 2,350 Test runs during a 52-Test career, told Test Match Special.
"Kevin Pietersen is a top player but should have taken on the job [at No.3]. Bopara was still developing.
"Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Bopara has been in and out. He's not had the backing of other players and he is now into the side again, in a difficult series, and got a duck in his first innings."
Ramprakash failed to transfer his prolific county form, which saw him make 114 first-class centuries in 25 run-laden seasons, into the Test arena and he believes the uncertainty which surrounded his place in the team contributed to his lack of international success.
He made his Test debut in 1991, against the legendary West Indian pace attack, and after scoring 210 runs in five matches, and failing in a one-off Test against Sri Lanka, he was dropped.
Ramprakash had to wait almost 12 months to fight his way back into the team and the pattern continued throughout his career as he struggled to stay in the national side's plans for a sustained period of time.
"I didn't know what the selectors wanted and did not know if I belonged in Test cricket," he said.
"Then, with a few failures, the pressure grew and it became very difficult.
"I showed a great amount of mental toughness to come out the other side and make Test hundreds against West Indies and Australia. Those things I treasure.
"The West Indies innings [154 in Bridgetown in 1998] did help me turn the corner.
"I made nearly 1,000 runs in 1998. England won the series against South Africa 2-1 and we nearly won in Australia.
"And I then had two poor performances and was dropped. That's what players used to have to put up with."