Bopara: 'There is no better feeling than this'

Centurion Ravi Bopara joins former captains in emotional reply to Chris Gayle's attack on Tests

To the enormous relief of Test cricket, its latest hero declared his passion for the game last night. Ravi Bopara, immediately after his third consecutive century, said that there was "no better feeling" than scoring a Test century and described the five-day game as the "pinnacle".

On a day when the longest form of the game found itself under increasing pressure because of comments by the West Indies captain Chris Gayle and the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board to stage a match in Durham in May leading to a predictably small crowd, it was exactly the reassurance that was required.

Gayle's remarks have sparked a debate about the health of Test cricket – and one which bubbled at a two-thirds empty Riverside Ground yesterday in which the home side dominated the West Indies to finish on 302 for 2.

"The feeling I got scoring a hundred at Lord's last week, and the feeling I got here, there is no better feeling," said Bopara, who played in the IPL last month and made 108 at the Riverside yesterday. "As a young boy I always wanted to play Test cricket. My heroes all did extraordinary stuff in Test cricket and that's the sort of thing you want to do. Test cricket is the pinnacle but all forms of the game are very important to me."

Bopara's stance was strongly supported by the former England captains Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart, who have added to the growing criticism of Gayle following the West Indian's suggestion this week that he would not be saddened if Test cricket perished while the Twenty20 game went from strength to strength. Viv Richards, one of Gayle's predecessors as West Indies captain, also reacted angrily to the Jamaican's comments, calling them "a total betrayal of the game that raised him".

Gooch, one of Bopara's heroes, told The Independent: "If you are casting doubt on whether you should be here, or whether you like playing Test cricket, I don't think those are the words you want to hear from your captain. And I don't like these sort of comments because I think there will be a trickle affect of more players, sadly, taking this sort of attitude. But to me Test cricket is still the No 1 game – the game everyone uses as a benchmark because all the skills, technical, mental and physical, are on show over five days. A lot of those things are only done in miniature in Twenty20 cricket."

Stewart conceded to The Independent that some players will cut short their Test careers to play more Twenty20 cricket, not just because of the greater financial rewards involved but also to reduce their workloads. "So I can see where Gayle is coming from," Stewart admitted. "But I'm not concerned for Test cricket because you need to be a great player to be signed up for big money by the IPL – and you only become a great player through Test cricket."

The fact that thousands of fans voted with their wallets yesterday, leaving large parts of the ground sparsely populated, suggested that Gayle is not alone in thinking the death of Test cricket would be no crying matter.

Only around 4,000 spectators were present while, out in the middle, a slow pitch and a touring side often struggling to convey even lukewarm enthusiasm. Gooch and Stewart, with 251 caps between them, insist that the oldest form of the international game is safe and will continue to thrive. Both, though, accept that changes, including some of those today put forward for discussion by The Independent, ought to be considered.

"We can't sit here and say that Test cricket will last for ever," Stewart said. "We have to look at schedules and the way it is marketed. I'm all for considering ways of taking Test cricket forward, but I would urge us not to tamper with it too much because it is a great game."

Avoiding back-to-back series, as happened with New Zealand last year and now West Indies, would help, agree Gooch and Stewart. And they believe ticket prices should be pegged where possible to attract a wide range of spectators. Tickets for this match cost between £30 and £65.

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'