England’s all-time leading run scorer Kevin Pietersen is expecting 2013 Ashes Man of the Series Ian Bell to achieve 30 Test Match centuries on his way to becoming a great of English cricket.
The Warwickshire batsman has had arguably his best ever summer which included three hundreds on the way to helping his country to a 3-0 series victory over Australia. The 31-year-old now averages over 46 per innings in the five-day format, having reached three figures on 20 occasions in his 93 Tests.
Bell has moved up and down the batting order in the past and looks comfortable in his position at number five which was emphasised by his hugely important innings in the Ashes, when his country needed him the most.
The four-time Ashes winner has not always had his own way in international cricket though after his introduction to the famous rivalry in 2005 was more than difficult on a personal note. He managed 171 runs at an average of just over 17. That is compared to his 562 runs at an average of over 62 in 2013 and in an interview with Talksport Pietersen says people cannot underestimate the skill of his England teammate.
“People would love to have just half the talent that Ian Bell has got and I’m so, so happy in this Ashes series he’s delivered when it’s counted and I think that will take a lot of pressure off him for the rest of his career.
“He can just go out there and keep scoring the runs and keep enjoying his cricket because I know he puts a lot of pressure upon himself. Belly trains so hard, does loads of boxing sessions and fitness sessions to get himself mentally in shape and he’s proved he’s got the rewards from the series and I’m sure he’ll just go from strength to strength.”
Pietersen is often at the crease with Bell due to the Surrey batsman being one spot ahead in the line-up and knows how the experienced campaigner operates. Bell was dropped in the West Indies in 2009 after England were bowled out for 51 with the man himself admitting that was a turning point in his career, a view Pietersen backs up.
“Belly talks a lot about when he was dropped in the Caribbean a few years ago and if you look at his number since he’s come back he averages something like 55 which is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve always known he’s a great player and he’ll go on to play 120 or 130 Test Matches.
“If he keeps playing the way he is now he can get 30 Test hundreds.”