Ravi Bopara, who left Essex for Sussex at the end of the 2019 county season, has opened up about how he “struggled” to accept the move away from his boyhood club.
The former England batsman made his Essex debut in 2002, but after a tumultuous year in which he was dropped to the second team for a time before playing a vital part in the club’s T20 Blast-winning campaign in a new role as a finisher, the player and club went their own ways after failing to agree a contract extension.
Essex made a point of describing their contract offer as an “improved” one, but leaving the club was not a decision Bopara took lightly.
“Once I came back into the side it was all about going and having some fun,” he said on the 98 Not Out show. “With all the contract talks at the time there was nothing in place and I just wanted to enjoy my last five or six weeks with Essex because I didn’t know what the future held. I just thought, these are my boys that I’ve played with for so many years, I’m going to have the most fun and prove a point.”
Bopara said that until recently he had struggled to accept his new circumstances. “It was incredibly emotional. It was almost like being chucked out of your house, somewhere where you’ve lived for so long and then you’ve got to go and do something else,” he said.
“It was just weird, really weird, and I struggled with it for a while. It’s not something I just settled into at the end of the season. I didn’t just finish the season and go, ‘Ah well, I’m moving on’. It took me a long time. Only very recently have I accepted it.”