Essex's Bopara has not been selected for either of Ashley Giles's 50-over squads since he took control of the limited-overs side and looked to be fighting for his international future, but he edged out fellow all-rounders Samit Patel, Rikki Clarke and Luke Wright.
Everything else was as expected, with Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan both named in the squad having returned to fitness after both suffering elbow problems.
With Kevin Pietersen already ruled out with a troublesome knee complaint Yorkshire's Joe Root, who has taken to international cricket with aplomb, was unsurprisingly picked among the batting contingent.
The only other area of debate in a squad that will also contest the series against New Zealand was the spare seamer, a position handed to Giles' former Warwickshire protege Chris Woakes instead of Surrey's Jade Dernbach.
But it is the selection of Bopara that will raise eyebrows. He has not played for England since last September after compiling just 22 runs in four innings against South Africa.
At the time he appeared desperately short of confidence and it was no surprise to see him left out of the one-day trips to India and New Zealand. England, though, have been persuaded to take another chance on a player who averages 30.62 in 83 ODIs.
As well as his batting, Bopara can also be a highly effective seam option in English conditions and that may have helped tip the balance in his favour, particularly when weighed against Patel's left-arm spin.
Root's county team-mate Jonny Bairstow will provide the main competition for Pietersen's batting spot in a dual position of back-up wicketkeeper and spare batsman.
England ODI Series and ICC Champions Trophy squad: A Cook (Essex) (Capt), J Anderson (Lancashire), J Bairstow (Yorkshire), I Bell (Warwickshire), R Bopara (Essex), TT Bresnan (Yorkshire), S Broad (Nottinghamshire), J Buttler (Somerset) (WK), S Finn (Middlesex), E Morgan (Middlesex), J Root (Yorkshire), G Swann (Nottinghamshire), J Tredwell (Kent), I Trott (Warwickshire), C Woakes (Warwickshire).
- Sports & Recreation
- Samit Patel
- Kevin Pietersen
- Tim Bresnan
- Ashley Giles
- Graeme Swann