England will keep the door open for Ravi Bopara as a Test batsman, despite his 11th-hour defection from their plans to face South Africa in Headingley.
James Taylor is set for a Test debut on Thursday as England's latest incumbent at number six thanks to Bopara's unexpected absence because of unspecified "personal reasons". Coach Andy Flower did not divulge any more details about the problems Bopara is experiencing, but he did make it clear that the Essex batsmans till has prospects of returning at the highest level.
"It's disappointing for him [Bopara] obviously, but it opens the door for another player who has come through the Academy system and worked really hard over the years to get his chance," Flower said. "It doesn't close the door on Ravi Bopara."
Bopara's unavailability means Taylor is likely to begin his career in trying circumstances, as England try to bounce back in urgent defence of their world number one status after being trounced by the tourists in the first Investec Test at The Oval last week.
Flower has made it clear Bopara remains in contention, and added: "He's effectively made himself unavailable due to the personal reasons he described to me.
"My job is to help select the side from those available and help prepare them for the Test."
Taylor, 22, may therefore become the fifth batsman England have deployed at number six this year.
"I certainly hope James can make six his spot for a while," said Flower. "I don't know him that well. I watched him play against Sri Lanka at Derby last year.
"He looks like a young man that understands his game pretty well and he knows how to score runs.
"We don't know how he'll do but we wish him well and hope he has a wonderful international career."