While his team was under pressure in the first Test, Ian Bell stuck to the task and played a match-winning innings. At the end, the wagon wheel showed that Bell didn’t play a single shot down the ground which reflects his temperament in building an innings © Getty Images

By Abhijit Banare

Only two players among the present England squad were part of the historic Ashes win in 2005. One of them is Kevin Pietersen, of whom every single thing from batting to hairstyle and controversies take turn to be in the news. And then there was an equally new player called, Ian Bell, who managed just 171 runs in the entire series. It’s been nine years in the Test team since then with 18 centuries to his name; still Bell is not the most preferred player to talk about when it comes to English cricket.
For an Indian cricket fan, the closest resemblance to Bell is Rohit Sharma. Their style of play elicits the same response from a spectator. The media in their respective countries too have been behind them for inconsistency and poor form. When they play that big innings, the words of praise start flowing at the same rate as their elegant drives.

The fact that Bell has survived for such a long time and has been part of the highs and lows of the England team suggests that he has truly come a long way. Mind you, unlike the Boparas, Collingwoods and Flintoffs of the team who had all-round skills, Bell’s value to the team comes purely as a batsman and too much of fluctuation in his performances can easily cost him a spot in the team. However, he has a formidable record despite inconsistency, which totally goes in sync with the enormous backing he receives from the team.
Players like him are among the ones who will never be talked about extensively before a big series but are capable of making a great impact. A quiet personality, remaining away from hype and pressure is something Bell would love. And just to be positive about his flipside, his inconsistency ensures not many teams take him seriously as well.

Innings at Trent Bridge
The worth of the innings could well be compared with the feelings a spectator associates with it and more significantly remembers it. The feeling of watching Bell’s ton couldn’t have been the same if you had a stubborn Alastair Cook in his place plotting the England fightback or a Jonathan Trott’s resistance which very well makes a bowler guilty of his profession. This makes the knock truly unique.
Another remarkable part of his century was the patience and reluctance to hit down the ground which reminded exactly of Sachin Tendulkar’s determination to remove the cover drive from his book in the Sydney Test of 2003-04. Its innings like these that improve the stature of the player and the 31-year-old has surely developed one of his own.

During the 2006-07 tour Shane Warne dubbed him as a Shermanator — a geek character in the movie American Pie. Back then, a young Bell mustered a reply, “I’ve been called worse.” Little did he know that the term would continue to tag him for every Ashes series. Every year before the Ashes, reports kept reminding him of the name. However, a match-winning century at Trent Bridge has quickly forced newspapers to resort to ‘Shermanator to Terminator’ headlines.
Going into the Lord’s Test, form and confidence are not the only two things that Bell will carry along. His scores at this venue confirm that there will be some hard-earned luck to back as well. He has had three centuries — one of them almost a double ton — and six half-centuries at an average of almost 54 in 22 innings. Hopefully, Bell will provide one more knock to remember for.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)