Matt Prior backing Ravi Bopara to come good for England in problem No 6 position

England keeper says it's a matter of time before Essex man puts in a 'big performance' in Test arena

Matt Prior is backing Ravi Bopara to put his Oval disappointment behind him as England look to bounce back from their humiliating defeat at the hands of South Africa in the first match of a series that could cost them their No 1 Test ranking.

Bopara played his first Test in almost a year against a rampant South Africa and marked his return with scores of 0 and 22 as England slumped to their first home defeat in more than two years. Prior described the loss as "a wake-up call" and there is little doubt that Bopara will not have been sleeping too soundly after his nightmare return to England colours.

The England wicketkeeper, though, believes that the Essex man, who was handed his fourth recall to the Test side in south London, has the quality to make the No 6 slot his own.

"Ravi is a very talented batter and I think it's only a matter of time before he puts that big performance in in the Test arena," Prior said yesterday. "He has scored three hundreds already so we know he can do it, he knows he can do it. He has just got to go out and show everyone he has what it takes."

Bopara has enjoyed more downs than ups in a Test career that began back in December 2007. During his first five innings as an England player, he registered three ducks – a miserable run that was followed by an equally improbable hat-trick of hundreds against the West Indies at Bridgetown, Lord's and Chester-le-Street.

A disastrous Ashes series in 2009, which exposed Bopara's limitations at No 3, followed before he was recalled again as England romped to a 4-0 series win over India last summer. That win secured their place at the top of the international tree – but that accession appears to have been built on increasingly flimsy foundations.

Andrew Strauss's men have now suffered five defeats in their last nine matches and although the bowlers took the punishment at The Oval – and there will be a clamour for Steve Finn to come in, probably at the expense of Tim Bresnan – the No 6 slot will give Strauss and coach Andy Flower another headache.

Eoin Morgan occupied the spot during England's 3-0 defeat by Pakistan in the UAE and averaged just 13.66. Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow then assumed the role against the West Indies earlier this summer and managed a paltry average of 12.66.

Bopara has hardly got his Test summer off to an auspicious start but Prior believes all the batsmen need to take collective responsibility.

"Some of the batters got out to soft dismissals," Prior said. "When you get a team in the position we had them in [in the first innings] then you have to go on and make a big score. We didn't do that. We have to make sure we minimise the soft dismissals because in international cricket, certainly against a team like South Africa, you get punished for it."

If those batsmen are looking for inspiration they could do worse than watch a rerun of Hashim Amla's 13-hour epic. His 311 not out was one of the most remarkable innings ever witnessed on English soil and laid the foundations for the tourists' win.

"We didn't play well, but on the other hand South Africa played fantastic cricket," Prior acknowledged. "Hashim Amla played the innings of his life. He played brilliantly, his tempo of the innings is something we can take a lot from and learn from. I thought [Jacques] Kallis showed once again he's just a top, top performer." Kallis scored and undefeated 182 before South Africa declared.

Prior looked comfortable in both innings against a rampant South Africa attack that made the pitch look far from the featherbed it appeared as England's bowlers toiled.

Now Prior averages more than 42 after 56 Tests, there could easily be a case for promoting him one place up the order. He, though, insists that he is just looking forward to showing South Africa what England are really capable of when the second Test begins at Headingley next Thursday.

"It's never nice and losing isn't something we're used to," he said. "It hits you pretty hard when you wake up and think it wasn't all just a nightmare, it actually happened.

"It's a strange thing, you have your mourning period and then you dust yourself down and look forward to what's coming up next – and that's obviously meeting up next Monday and getting ourselves to Headingley.

"If we needed a wake-up call, then we certainly got it. We need to hunt South African wickets and get ourselves in the Test match. Personally, the first innings was the perfect opportunity where Swanny and I could have had a tail wag and then in the second innings I was gutted, hugely disappointed not to go on.

"I had a momentary lapse of concentration that punishes you at this level – I know I messed up and I'll take it on the chin. I got 100 runs in the game and feel in good form, in a good rhythm." Bopara will hope to have a similar feeling when hostilities resume in Leeds.

Matt Prior was speaking on behalf of ASDA, which is entering its seventh year of sponsorship of the National Kwik Cricket competition. Visit: www.asda.com/kwikcricket

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
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

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?