WHEN Ian Bell was selected for Michael Vaughan’s team in the 2005 Ashes series he was ridiculed by Australia.
They nicknamed him the Sherminator and, Old Trafford aside, he scored 47 runs in four Test matches.
Fast-forward eight years and what would Australia give to have Bell in their team now?
He has been by far the outstanding batsman in the series. He’d have to get a pair in the final Test at the Oval not to be named man of the series.
But Test cricket is about batsmen putting you in a position and bowlers winning you the game. Bell has scored 20 hundreds for England and this was probably his most important. Yet all it did was put England in a position to win and that’s why bowlers are the stars.
It was a brilliant fourth day at Chester-le-Street. Anybody who was there saw the ebb and flow of Test cricket at its extreme best.
It was an amazing turnaround and the reason was an inspired spell of bowling from seamer Stuart Broad.
In this column last week I suggested Graham Onions might play ahead of Broad and his name would have gone through the selectors’ minds for a long time.
Broad had taken six wickets in the opening three Tests – including 2-138 at Old Trafford – and I’m sure somebody would have told him his place was up for grabs. You know yourself as a player when you aren’t performing.
But the selectors backed their man and his quality came through. He took five wickets in the first innings and then bowled Australia out with six wickets in the second. He was simply fantastic. I don’t think England have played all that well in this series though. They have had two or three players to get them out of a hole when required.
I would like to think as a team more players would have contributed.
Alastair Cook has struggled for runs, Jonathan Trott has been horribly off form, Joe Root was a one hit wonder, James Anderson has been up and down and Matt Prior hasn’t got going at all.
When the team clicks it will be awesome and that might be ominous for Australia in the winter, because the fact is we have better cricketers.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer. He has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.