Home > Features >

Ian Bell 100 Test matches for England: Another landmark moment in an impressive career

Ian Bell becomes the latest entrant to the 100-Test club © Getty Images
Ian Bell will become the latest entrant to the 100-Test club when he takes the field against Sri Lanka on Thursday © Getty Images

One of the most crucial cogs of England’s batting line-up, Ian Bell will play his 100th Test match against Sri Lanka at Headingley. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at what has been a terrific journey of a batsman who was tipped right from the start of his career to succeed at the highest level.

In 2001, when the senior England team were getting pummelled left, right and centre by the all-conquering Australian setup, Nottinghamshire were playing Warwickshire in a County game at Edgbaston. Warwickshire, who won the toss and elected to bat, were suddenly reeling at three for 30 under overcast conditions.  Experienced campaigners Mike Powell, Nick Knight and Mark Wagh were all back in the pavilion.  In walked the 19-year-old Ian Bell. There was already a groundswell of opinion among the good judges of the game that Bell would become a great batsman. But at that time, he hadn’t yet left a strong marker. However, on August 3, 2001 everything changed.

Bell played like a 50-Test veteran and went onto make a marvellous hundred. Early on in his innings, Bell seemed to be reconnoitring the situation on hand; including the wicket that was making the ball dart around a bit. Once set, Bell played sweetly-timed shots to complete a regal century. Interestingly, it was also a game when another future English great, Kevin Pietersen, played a swashbuckling knock of 72 for Nottinghamshire. Even in 2014, when a confident Bell will stride out to play in his 100th Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley that unquenching thirst to notch up big scores hasn’t diminished one bit.

Just like every sportsperson going around, Bell has had his fair share of ups and downs. During the 2005 Ashes series, Bell seemed like a lost explorer from the renaissance period, who trudged back to the pavilion wondering where his next run would come from. In 2009, after the first Test against the West Indies at Jamaica, he was dropped from the unit. In 2011-12 against Pakistan in UAE, he was short of runs. However, every time Bell has struggled for form, he has come back with aplomb, sometimes to sheer disbelief from fans and critics alike with breathtaking batsmanship.

If we jog our memory back to 2005, after floundering to the depths of despair against Australia, Bell took on the gauntlet of playing a rampaging Shoaib Akhtar with a glorious century at Faisalabad. His nimble footwork even against top class bowling was almost soothing to watch; he went onto compile a great hundred that day.

In 2008, when he walked out to bat in the sacred temple of cricket, Lord’s, Bell’s magic floored South Africa, and he went onto make 199 — cruelly falling just one run short of a richly deserved double ton. He eventually amassed his first double hundred against India at the Oval in 2011. During the final Ashes Test in 2009 at the Oval, Bell was on a comeback trail and there was immense pressure on him to perform, especially after he had flopped in the previous Test at Headingley. On a tricky track, it was Bell’s knock of 72 that went a long way in helping England to wrest back the Ashes urn from Australia.

At the height of his prowess in Ashes 2013 held in England, Bell — with aesthetic grace — scored three hundreds to take England to their third consecutive Ashes triumph.  When Bell played those late cuts, he seemed to be using a vivid brush to paint the lush green outfields with shots of pristine elegance.

As Ian Bell gets ready to play his 100th Test, there is even a feeling that he may replace a misfiring Alastair Cook soon as the captain of England. Even when he played for England Under-19 team in the 2000 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, Warwickshire faithfuls tipped him to become the national captain. If and when he is appointed as the skipper, it will be interesting to see how he shoulders the responsibility of being the leader, and more importantly if he can continue to explore the outer limits of his game by reaching greater heights.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 10, 2014  at Dubai

Australia won by 5 wkts

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

IPL success embodies emergence of sports as global industry, says India’s representative at UN

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Kevin Pietersen is probably the best cricketer I have played with: Eoin Morgan

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: SLC defend decision to tour

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Virender Sehwag turns 36: Five most memorable innings of the Nawab of Najafgarh

New Zealand begin ICC World Cup 2015 preparations with 15 ODIs in store

Virender Sehwag paid birthday tribute to by Sophos Antivirus

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

सेक्स टिप # 13: महिलाओं में कामेच्छा (low libido) की समस्या

आपकी दिवाली खुशनुमा, सुरक्षित और शुभ हो

iOS 8.1 update now available bringing Camera Roll, SMS Relay, iCloud Photo library among others

Movies to watch this week: Happy New Year!

Narendra Modi personified Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva of popularity at Madison Square Garden

IBM to pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to buy its chip division

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: RJ Pritam solves inmates problems while Ali Quli Mirza creates more on Day 29!

Dasvandh Network’s appeal to help reach goal of $80,000 to help Sikh cause in North America

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here