Ian Bell delighted to draw first blood at Ageas Bowl
England batsmen of yesteryear were accustomed to facing West Indies ‘chin music’, but Ian Bell today made the tourists dance to his tune.
Bell, who overcame a nasty blow to the chin in training yesterday, fired his second limited-overs hundred as the hosts went ahead in the NatWest Series with a 114-run Duckworth/Lewis win at the Ageas Bowl.
Given Bell’s injury, it was surprising that he did not have to face more short-pitched bowling from the Windies. As it was, the elegant right-hander looked at ease in compiling an exquisite 126 from 117 deliveries in an impressive total of 288 for six.
West Indies, chasing a revised 278 from 48 overs, slumped to defeat after opener Dwayne Smith fell for a 44-ball 56 as Tim Bresnan returned an impressive 4-34.
Bell said: “I was quite lucky that all the precautions from the backroom staff yesterday got me in a good frame of mind.
“I pretty much thought I was going to play from last night anyway. It was quite easy coming to the ground this morning, knowing I was going to play regardless.”
Bell was struck by a throw-down in the indoor nets and, at first, did not know where he was bleeding from.
After striking a century at the Ageas Bowl, Ian Bell said: “I didn’t try to slog – which probably in the past I’ve been guilty of doing.”
It was at first thought he may have sustained a fracture, but he escaped with 10 stitches.
“It had gone quite deep to the bone, and there were a few layers of stitches – and then the 10 (on the surface),” he added.
“It was weird, because it hurt more by my ear really rather than where it actually hit me.
“Then when the blood was coming down, I didn’t really know where from – so it was a strange one really.”
Following Kevin Pietersen’s limited-overs retirement, Bell returned to the top of the England order for the first time since last year’s World Cup.
He extended his impressive Test form of three fifties in four innings, helping England recover from the loss of captain Alastair Cook for nought in the first over.
“Probably in the past, I’ve tried to hit the ball too hard sometimes and lose my shape – whereas today I did today exactly as I’d play a Test match, sticking to the shots I know well,” Bell said.
“Obviously, there’s a bit more intent in one-day mode. But I didn’t try to slog – which probably in the past I’ve been guilty of doing.”
Cook was able to reflect on a fifth consecutive ODI in which an England opening batsman has made three figures. He began the sequence with back-to-back tons in Abu Dhabi before Pietersen did likewise in Dubai.
Those scores underpinned a 4-0 whitewash of Pakistan and today’s win made it five ODI victories in a row.
“I don’t want to give away all our trade secrets. It would be nice if it can continue,” Cook said.
“We’ve made a real point about the top four and I don’t know why it’s happened five in a row.”