Ian Bell thought that he had done enough to win back his place in the England top order. He is not one of nature's boat-rockers, but he feels more than simple disappointment at his omission. It may have been as well that his mobile phone was switched off at 7am when Geoff Miller, the national selector, rang to deliver the bad news.
His fate was thus confirmed by voice mail and Bell, who said he was deeply hurt at being dropped after the Jamaica Test last month, wants to find time for a face-to-face chat with Miller during the England Lions game against the West Indians at Derby, which starts today. “I want to find out what I need to be doing,” Bell said.
Ravi Bopara was preferred for the No 3 position for the first Test against West Indies and the Essex player received a glowing endorsement from Robert Key, who will captain the Lions. “I think Ravi will be one of England's primary batsmen for the next ten years,” Key said. “Kevin Pietersen and Ravi will be the two who could set the world alight for England.”
Such comments used to be hung on Bell, but his return to international level
will, barring injury, now take longer than many predicted and the batsman
expected. “The message from West Indies was to score big hundreds and hit
the ground running,” Bell, 27, said. “I thought I had probably done that and
was in a good position.”
He was also told to take on more responsibility, having been identified by Peter Moores, the former head coach, as a potential England captain a year or so earlier. However, Bell revealed that his request to captain Warwickshire while Ian Westwood is injured was rejected by Ashley Giles, the county's director of cricket and England selector.
“I do not want to be seen as just a batter,” Bell said. “I thought there was an opportunity to develop my cricket brain, but Ashley did not really explain it. Maybe he wanted me to concentrate on scoring runs. Perhaps he thought I would not be around for very long, but by the look of it I am going to be around for as long as anybody.”
Indeed, one immediate problem facing Bell - and any other challenger to Bopara - is a county itinerary that has crammed the first phase of the Friends Provident Trophy into the opening six weeks of the season and followed it with Twenty20 Cup games to promote the World Twenty20. There is no LV County Championship cricket between May 9 and June 6.
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