Friday 11 July 2008

Bell on Song

First Test
Day 1 Comment
It had to be now - this series, this game, this day. With the selectors axe dangling tantalisingly over his neck Ian Bell played the sort of innings we've been waiting for, for almost four years.

His talent has never been in doubt, on song his effortless elegance is matched by no one in the England side. Test cricket though, has always demanded more than talent. Pressure is what separates the talented from the successful. Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash time and again battered attacks outside the heat of the Test arena, yet when the situation demanded it their minds scrambled and with it their techniques.

Bell was in danger of joining this pantheon of wasted gifts. All his hundreds to date have been scored in comfortable circumstances, following on the good work of his team mates. Yesterday was different. After England's solid start, they had lost their openers and captain in a flash. With Morkel and Steyn having finally found rhythm and Pietersen floored England were staring down the barrel. For the first time in his career Bell read the situation and rose to it. He launched a counter attack that was nothing short of spectacular. It allowed Pietersen time to play himself in and set up England's day and series. Should he go on today and to make hundred it will be far and away be his best, and may prove, finally to be that elusive breakthrough innings.

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