Former Essex and Sussex allrounder Ravi Bopara signs one-year Northamptonshire deal

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Ravi Bopara said he still feels “like a young man in the game” after signing a contract with Northamptonshire which ensures he will play in England’s T20 Blast for the 22nd consecutive season, at the age of 39.

Bopara is one of three men to have played more than 200 matches in the Blast and one of two, alongside Samit Patel, to have featured in each of the tournament’s first 21 seasons. He has been in discussions with several counties since his release by Sussex last summer and was ultimately unveiled as a Northants player on Tuesday morning.

He has initially signed a one-year, T20-only contract and will celebrate his 39th birthday a few weeks before Northants start their Blast season on May 30 against Derbyshire, who will be captained by their own new signing in Patel. “I’m really happy to have joined Northamptonshire for the T20s this year,” Bopara said in a press release.

Bopara captained Sussex in the Blast last year. He had a productive season – he scored 408 runs with a strike rate of 146.23 and chipped in with eight wickets – but Sussex missed out on the quarter-finals and he was not offered a new contract, a decision he described as “very disappointing”.

He spent the winter playing overseas for Delhi Bulls (Abu Dhabi T10) and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (ILT20) and has recently finished a stint as assistant coach at Karachi Kings. “I felt great in the Blast last year and my game is in a really good place at the moment,” he said. “I’m looking forward to joining the Steelbacks and putting on a show for the fans at Wantage Road.”

Northants won the Blast in 2013 and 2016 but have only reached the quarter-finals once in the last seven seasons. They have brought in George Bartlett (Somerset) and George Scrimshaw (Derbyshire) over the winter, with Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza signing for the Blast, while Tom Taylor and Josh Cobb have both left for Worcestershire.

“We have a really exciting squad: there’s a lot of quality in that list and I’m hoping to play a big part in bringing a third Blast trophy to the club,” Bopara said. “I’m still learning a great deal about this game at my age. I have a burning desire and hunger to up-skill my game to new heights and I still feel like a young man in the game. There’s so much more for me to achieve in the T20 space.”

John Sadler, Northants’ head coach, said: “Ravi is a phenomenal signing for us and we’re delighted to get it over the line. He’s been an incredible performer across all formats for many years and brings a huge presence on and off the field.”

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