Ian’s finally Bell of the ball

Andy Lloyd
OUR cricket columnist, former England batsman and Warwickshire chairman Andy Lloyd, has been poring over the Ashes action. Here he dissects what he’s learned from the play so far.

Ian Bell finally got the big runs his performances in this series merited. Seeing him mature into a Test match batsman of real class and poise is particularly satisfying for me, having known him since his teenage years. He’s always had the technique, he’s got all the shots in the book, and his footwork, particularly against spin, is a joy to watch.

Early on in his international career he was probably slightly inhibited coming into an England team with so many big names and personalities. That’s certainly not the case now and a lot of the credit for the change in the way Bell asserts himself at the crease has to be attributed to England coaches Andy Flower and Graham Gooch.

These are two really well principled guys, who won’t let their players take the short route to success.

It’s no coincidence that Bell is profiting under their guidance.

It’s obviously not flawless, but the UDRS has worked well in this series, it’s clearly here to stay and I’m a fan of it. It will, however, cause controversy, and I did feel sympathy for the players who had the finger pointed at them in this game.

Bell clearly didn’t think he hit the ball and the technology, at first, appeared to back him up. You can’t blame him for using the system to his advantage and the stick he took from the Aussie crowd was absurd.

Similarly, Phil Hughes doesn’t deserve to be branded a cheat for a heat of the moment call. Standing so close to the bat, your first thoughts are always of self preservation and it’s often impossible to know whether you’ve taken a catch cleanly.

There have been far more obvious examples of cheating in cricket. Bell and Hughes shouldn’t be tarred by the events of day three.