Monday, May 10, 2010

Swann backing Bopara

England spinner Graeme Swann is backing Ravi Bopara to step up to the mark and fill the void left by Kevin Pietersen.

Bopara is set to replace homeward-bound Pietersen in the line-up to face New Zealand in the final Super Eights game at the ICC World Twenty20.

Pietersen has been in imperious form in the wins over Pakistan and South Africa, however he will miss the clash with the Black Caps as his wife Jessica is due to give birth.

Pietersen is expected to return in time for Thursday's semi-final, should England progress, however Swann believes Bopara is the ideal candidate to come into the side.

Swann said: "It's obviously a loss not to have Kevin for the next game. But after winning these last two, it probably makes it a little bit easier.

"We've got Ravi to come back, who in this form of the game can be as destructive as anyone - even Kev.

"He'll come in and stake a claim to be involved. If we qualify for the semi-final he'll want to get a spot in it.

"It's obviously disappointing to miss Kev. But I think everyone in the squad understands why, and we're 100 per cent behind him."

If Pietersen has provided the impetus with the bat, it is Swann's partnership with Michael Yardy that has been the highlight of England's bowling.

Together, the spin twins ripped out the South African top order in Barbados - and Swann has been full of praise of the Sussex captain.

"We don't talk on the field. It's all done beforehand," added Swann.

"We go out there knowing exactly what we've got to do, who to do it to, and when to do it.

"He certainly doesn't say anything to the batsmen; he gets on with his game. He just runs up and does his job.

"I'm sure he's annoying to a few batsmen at the minute, because he keeps getting them out."

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