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Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 12:26 UK

Bopara turns down big India offer

Ravi Bopara
Bopara, 23, made his Test debut against Sri Lanka during the winter

England all-rounder Ravi Bopara says he has rejected a lucrative offer to play in the Indian Premier League.

The Essex player says he was offered a six-figure deal by an unnamed side.

"When figures like these are put in front of you it is tempting, but my first priority is, and always has been, with England," said the 23-year-old.

"I am confident that if I continue to score runs and take wickets for Essex I will hopefully play for England this summer and for many years to come."

Bopara made his Test debut in Sri Lanka during the winter, before being discarded for the New Zealand leg of the tour after three Tests.

But the all-rounder, who has scored 341 runs in three County Championship innings and also tops his team's bowling averages, says he will get his financial rewards down the line if he achieves his goals.

"If I do this, and with the current talk of new competitions and one-off matches to sit alongside the IPL, then I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy the financial benefits in years to come," he said.

"It's nice to be known and wanted and I'm glad if my IPL approach has made Essex proud. I'm Essex through and through, I love playing at Essex and want to play for them for the rest of my career.

"I'm currently playing well and with a Test series coming up against New Zealand, if there was an injury to our batting line-up I'd like to think I would be next in line. That's what I'm looking at."

Bopara is already seen as a key part of the one-day set-up and his decision to snub the IPL is sure to go down well with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Hampshire skipper Dimitri Mascarenhas is currently England's only representative in the big-money Twenty20 competition, but established stars like Kevin Pietersen and Ryan Sidebottom have declared their interest in participating in the future.

Bopara is not centrally contracted to the ECB and would be free to pursue a contract with one of the eight IPL franchises if an agreement was reached with his county.

Meanwhile, Australian legend Shane Warne, who captains and coaches IPL side Rajasthan Royals, has again criticised the ECB from preventing centrally-contracted players from featuring in the IPL.

Andrew Flintoff is the one that everybody will be after

Shane Warne

"It's a bit short-sighted to not let the players play," said the 38-year-old leg-spinner.

"If the Poms don't want to play, well, so be it. It's still a good spectacle without them. But it would be better with them.

"Hopefully everyone gets their head out the sand and they allow their individuals to play and look at the bigger picture."

Warne added that if the ECB relaxed their stance, then IPL sides would be queuing up to recruit the best English talent.

"Andrew Flintoff is the one that everybody will be after," he said.

"He can bat and bowl, and in this competition I think it's very important to have those guys that can bat and bowl.

"Kevin Pietersen is obviously a wonderful player, so he would be handy in any side, but if we were chasing someone I think Andrew Flintoff would probably be one of the major people we'd be chasing."

see also
Mascarenhas joins Indian league
11 Mar 08 |  Cricket

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