Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ravi: County Spies Will Help Us Crack Hughes; England No3 Says That by Thrusting Himself into the English Game Early, Aussie Star Has Helped His Hosts. by Tom Collomosse

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ravi: County Spies Will Help Us Crack Hughes; England No3 Says That by Thrusting Himself into the English Game Early, Aussie Star Has Helped His Hosts. by Tom Collomosse

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

RAVI BOPARA believes that Australia hotshot Phillip Hughes's controversial sixweek stint with Middlesex could actually play into England's hands during the Ashes.

Hughes has scored four hundreds in all forms of the game since joining the county, enhancing his reputation as one of the world's best young players after hitting two centuries in the same match against South Africa in March -- only his second Test English cricket officials were uneasy about Middlesex signing Hughes, and Aussie captain Ricky Ponting taunted England by claiming they would be "dreading" Middlesex's decision to bring in Hughes.

Yet with only 47 days remaining before the First Test in Cardiff, Bopara believes the 20-year-old's spell in county cricket can actually work in England's favour.

"I am sure he has strong areas and weak areas," said the Essex man, who has cemented his place as England's No3 for the Ashes after scoring three centuries in his last three Test innings.

"His being in England has allowed people to have a little look at him, which is an advantage for us. We will get the reports back from the counties, and we can find out where he is strong, and where he is weak."

Bopara is expected to open the batting for England in Sunday's second one-day international against West Indies, after the first match of the NatWest Series was washed out at Headingley yesterday.

Although England will play only limited-overs cricket between now and the Ashes, Bopara believes the form he shows during these matches and in the World Twenty20 will have a bearing on how he performs against Australia.

Speaking at an npower Urban Cricket facility in Manchester, which helps turned disused areas of park land into places where children can learn to play cricket, Bopara continued: "It is important for me to keep going from the Tests against West Indies, and the only way I can do that is by playing well in the NatWest Series and the World Twenty20. …

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