Matrix and Futurebound ft. Luke Bingham
All I Know
So in Love With You
Richard Rae at Edgbaston, Thursday 12th July 2012 19:16
There have always been days when Ian Bell appears to be playing a different game to his team-mates, and Thursday was very much one of those. Having spent much of the morning by the side of his pregnant wife Chantal as she underwent a routine scan, Warwickshire's in-form England batsman arrived at the ground in perfect time to remind his home crowd what a fine player he is.
It helped, in that context, that he was up against an international bowler.
Monty Panesar, introduced early by the Sussex captain Michael Yardy, was bowling beautifully and had just dismissed William Porterfield with a delivery that turned out of the footmarks to trap the left-hander leg-before back on his stumps.
At the other end Varun Chopra had gone 38 deliveries without scoring, and it was only a few minutes before lunch, but Bell arrived at the wicket full of confidence and bristling with intent. Using his feet to the left-arm spinner from ball one, he went on to hit 10 fours, including three in one over off James Anyon, and each shot was so perfectly timed and classically executed it was a considerable shock to see him mis-time a pull off Steve Magoffin to be dismissed for 56 before rain ended play at tea.
While the likes of his county colleague Jonathan Trott have chosen to have a few days off, Bell decided that spending time out in the middle for Warwickshire was the best way to prepare for the three-Test series against South Africa.
"It's what works for the individual. I was going to do two days of nets anyway, but four-day cricket has a very different rhythm to one-day cricket and it was nice to have that opportunity, I felt it would help," he said.
"I was trying to get out of one-day cricket mode, trying to rein myself in, to be honest. I've never felt nets give me the best preparation for Test matches – whether that's old school, I don't know, but scoring 50 in the middle gets me in a better place than having a hundred nets.
"For the same reason it was nice to play the [England] Lions game before the West Indies series. I'm aiming to go to The Oval [next week] in a good frame of mind, and if the two days practice we have down there happen to be washed out, and we have to go indoors, at least I've got this under my belt. That's all it was about: being out in the middle and putting whites on was the important thing."
In that respect Bell said he had learned from England's two-Test series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year.
"After feeling a bit under-prepared for that series, I just wanted to make sure. Scoring runs for Warwickshire doesn't guarantee runs at The Oval, but it helps me feel comfortable and confident going there."