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Page last updated at 23:32 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 00:32 UK

Stewart backs Bopara to flourish

Ravi Bopara
Bopara showed a taste for a big stage with last summer's 201 at Grace Road

Former England captain Alec Stewart says playing for his country at Lord's next week against West Indies may be the perfect stage for Ravi Bopara.

The 23-year-old Essex player could bat at number three after being selected ahead of Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan.

Stewart told BBC London 94.9: "Ravi is a huge talent. I thought he may have come in a little lower down the order."

"But it's a great place to bat at Lord's, it's a pretty flat wicket so he gets a great opportunity."

On the bowling side Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions have won call ups for their good early season county form for Yorkshire and Durham respectively.

But Stewart is surprised at the omission of another Durham man Steve Harmison.

"I've got to be Steve Harmison's biggest fan," said Stewart.

"I still can't understand why he's not there in that squad, especially without Andrew Flintoff.

"I just believe you need a matchwinning bowler and, to me, Harmison is that matchwinning bowler."

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