PAUL Grayson admits it would be a nice and unexpected bonus to have Ravi Bopara available for the start of their season.

The England all-rounder failed to attract a bid at the auction for this year’s Indian Premier League and, as things stand, will be available for the county’s start to the new campaign in April.

Bopara’s starting option of $100,000 (£64,000) did not attract interest from any of the franchises.

It was the second year running he’s been overlooked, and Essex head coach Grayson said that could be a big bonus for them.

He said: “I haven’t spoken to Ravi because he’s in Bangladesh, but he’ll be disappointed he did not get any deals with the IPL.

“We are not banking that he will now be definitely available for us, though. He is available now but things change quickly in the Indian Premier League, and players can still get picked up if there’s any injuries.

“But we were preparing for him not being available for us, so we will be really pleased if he is because we’d like to think he’ll make a big contribution to the team because it’s a big year for him this year.”

England batsman Kevin Pietersen tweeted his surprise at Bopara missing out, saying: “How Ravi Bopara didn’t get picked up in the IPL auction is beyond me! Bowls/bats/fields and a top team man! Maybe he will get in somehow...”.

Grayson admitted it was a surprise to him too.

“I don’t know why he was not picked to be honest,” said Grayson.

“Maybe his form dipped in the second half of last season, so that’s probably why one of two people were a bit scared away.

“We know at Essex that if you get him in good form and get him in a good place he’s a good bowler in one-day cricket, an outstanding batsman and a very good fielder as well.”

Bopara played for Kings XI Punjab in the 2009 and 2010 IPL tournaments but has not featured for the last two years. Fellow England international Matt Prior plus Ireland batsman Kevin O’Brien also failed to attract bids at the IPL auction on Sunday.

Former Hampshire batsman and rising Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell fetched the highest bid of $1m (£637,000) from Mumbai Indians.