Sunday, 24 March 2013

For whom the Bell tolls

Ian Bell is an enigma. The most aesthetically pleasing England batsman to watch, his cover drive is the sort of thing some batsmen can only dream about. It really is the Scarlett Johanssen of cricket shots, although I can't remember if I have ever masturbated over an Ian Bell cover drive! My co pilot Liam, wrote about his "man love" for Bell a few months back, but for me something is wrong. Something is not quite right and I wonder if it is time to look elsewhere? Don't get me wrong; on his day he is a quality player, but are those days too few and far between?

Ian enigma

The thing that gets most people about Bell is that he never seems to produce the goods when it is most needed. He turns thirty one next month and is approaching ninety odd Test matches. He should be the main man in this side, the guru, the glue that holds the middle order together, the older head. Instead what we have is a guy who seems to still be as inexperienced as the fresh faced chap, Shane Warne famously referred to as the Sherminator, all those years ago.

I first had my doubts in India. When he charged the bowling first ball of his series and skyed one to mid off, I wondered if he was right mentally. It was not the thing a senior player does. It was downright irresponsible. Far be it for the likes of us boys at The Middle Stump to call anyone immature but it was a naive dismissal. Can you imagine the likes of Steve Waugh doing that back in the great Australian side? He then managed to get a hundred in the last game of the series when the pressure was off and England had won the series. I say the pressure was off, as it was firmly on him but he seems to do just enough to stay in the side without doing the business when it really matters.

Since his 235 against India at the Kia Oval in August 2011, the afore mentioned hundred in Nagpur is his only ton in the last twenty nine knocks. Not good enough for a man of his quality! Too many soft dismissals have occurred and he is not being hard enough about his wicket. Your wicket, especially at Test level is a precious commodity, and should be given away like the virginity of a young lady - saved for someone special.

Who would replace him? Well Pietersen would definitely return in the middle order, but probably at the expense of Jonny Bairstow. I think Joe Root has done enough to stay in the side. Eoin Morgan may have had his days, so maybe James Taylor at Notts? Or his club mate Alex Hales? James Hildreth at Somerset has also had his name thrown into the ring amongst the Twitterati.

A queue of younger players await such as James Taylor

Believe me, Bell is not the only one to have under achieved in New Zealand. Monty, Jimmy Anderson, even Cook could have had that accusation chucked at them like a James Kirtley bouncer, or a Saeed Ajmal doosra. These guys have done the business in recent series though, and should be allowed a bad one. Bell has been poor for a while now.

England badly miss KP. They badly miss Swann and they are most definitely missing Andrew Strauss. Now is the time for Ian Bell to step up to the plate and show his mettle.

If not, maybe the Bell will ring for last orders?


  1. Some very valid points made here, and you look throughout his career he hasn't really produced consistently when needed. It is clear we are missing some grit with the bat in the middle order, and we can't (as proven in this series) rely on Cook and Trott to perform every test. Prior is a godsend coming in at number 7 with his contributions being vital, particularly over the past two years. Everyone can have an off day; a poor series, but its maybe becoming a bit too often now.

  2. The pros and cons of central contracts. In the pre central contract era Bell would have been dropped long ago. The closed loop/cosy club whilst giving comfort can also be too forgiving. But no system is perfect.