After a dazzling display in the one-day series against number one side Australia, Mark Ramprakash believes that Ravi Bopara needs the backing of the selectors to realise his true potential.
Bopara, 27, was dismissed for a six-ball duck on the second day of the first Test against South Africa, as the tourists began to turn the game around. That was his first appearance in the England Test team for almost a year and Ramprakash believes the all-rounder now needs a consistent run in the side. Bopara has been in and out of the test side, winning just 13 caps in five years.
"He can play in all formats. He needs to be backed," Ramprakash told BBC Sport.
"Ravi should be compared to me because he scored three hundreds and was then pushed in at three.
"Kevin Pietersen is a top player but should have taken on the job [at No.3]. Bopara was still developing.
"Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Bopara has been in and out. He's not had the backing of other players and he is now into the side again, in a difficult series, and got a duck in his first innings."
Bopara made his England debut against Sri Lanka in 2007, but was dropped after a run of low scores in the series and did not earn a recall until two years later when he scored three consecutive hundreds against the West Indies, earning himself a place at number three for the 2009 Ashes.
However, after a tough series against Australia he was dropped once again and, barring his recall against India last summer to cover for the injured Jonathan Trott, he has had to wait until the South Africa series to finally become first choice again, this time at number six.
The Essex all-rounder top scored with an unbeaten 53 in the fifth and final ODI against the Aussies and also clocked up 82 runs in the second match, as England ran out comfortable 4-0 winners. As a result, the current series with South Africa, to determine the number one Test team in the world, could also prove to be the most important series of Bopara’s career, as he looks to prove the doubters wrong.