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Ravi Bopara believes Essex’s academy played a big part in their title win

UK & international sports | Published:

Essex wrapped up this year’s Specsavers County Championship title on Thursday with an innings victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Ravi Bopara

Ravi Bopara says Essex’s academy played a big part in the county ending its 25-year wait for a Championship title.

Essex wrapped up this year’s Specsavers County Championship title on Thursday with an innings victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Eight of the players in Essex’s team came through the county’s age group system and Bopara is delighted the patience in youth has been rewarded.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “It’s been a fantastic year so far but we’ve got two games to go. It’s a very good time at the moment.

“Essex have always had a great academy. Their youth cricket has always been fantastic.

“They do stick with their youngsters for a lot longer than other counties – but if you’re not one of the bigger counties you don’t have much choice.”

It is the first time an Essex side not featuring Graham Gooch has won the Championship – they won it six times between 1979 and 1992 when the former England batsman was one of their players.

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However all-rounder Bopara says former Essex and England batting coach Gooch, now 64, contributed to the success.

He continued: “I think Graham has played a massive part as well in terms of the amount of work he did with youngsters there now. Players like James Foster, Varun Chopra, Alastair Cook, myself and Ryan ten Doeschate, who was quite young when he came over from South Africa in 2001.”

Bopara, 32, thinks players tempted to swap smaller counties for bigger ones should note Essex’s success this year.

He explained: “One of the worst things to happen in cricket is youngsters from smaller clubs tend to run off to Test match counties… but I don’t believe in that. I think we need to stop doing that.”

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