Ian Bell says he cannot wait for the talking to finish so the England team can do their talking on the pitch, starting in the opening Test Match of the summer against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on Thursday.
There has been over five months since the Ashes campaign ended in Sydney and the ‘new era’ in the five day arena is set to announce itself to the world stage at the home of cricket with three debutants and six changes from England’s last Test.
Captain Alastair Cook has confirmed Sam Robson will be his new opening partner while batting all-rounder Moeen Ali will certainly play in a new look England side which could include fast bowler Chris Jordan.
The final spot in the side appears to be between Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes and Yorkshire quick Liam Plunkett who’s last Test was seven years ago, almost to the exact date. The 29-year-old has since moved counties from Durham and has excelled with bat and ball while bowling with extreme pace on a regular basis.
There has been much speculation since January about the make-up of the side after Kevin Pietersen was controversially dumped from his central contract and Jonathan Trott has not yet made a full recovery from his stress related illness.
One player certain to play is Bell after winning the 2013-14 England Cricketer of the Year on Monday. The 32-year-old was rewarded for a fine 12-months which included winning the 2013 Ashes Player of the Series and as he explained to GiveMeSport he is delighted to be honoured.
“It’s something you’re always working towards and going to the awards every year you want to become that one day. It was nice to be able to get Player of the Year so I’m really chuffed with that and hopefully it can continue over the next few years and I can carry on that kind of form.”
Bell has been confirmed as the unofficial vice-captain for the game, taking over from Matt Prior and he explained he is eager to get down to business.
“It feels like the season is here when that first test is finally here, there’s a great build-up and in these two days preparation you can feel the excitement for the season to come so it is a big summer for us and English cricket but it’s an exciting one as well,” admitted the right-hander.
“Come Thursday all of that talking can stop and we can get down to what we do. It is exciting to have the potential of three debutants on Thursday which would be great for all of us.
“When you receive your cap it’s one of the best things in your life so to see those guys and the excitement in them it will rub off on the rest of the team and hopefully we will start the season off really well.”
Cook will lead the team out on Thursday morning for the 11am start and he has already confirmed the top six batting line-up with the experience of Bell slotting in at four, either side of the inexperienced middle-order.
"Gary (Ballance) will bat at three, Belly at four, (Joe) Rooty at five and Mo (Moeen Ali) at six," explained the England skipper.
Bell has already played with Ali and Jordan and knows their strengths but he is also keen to see how the new partnership will develop at the top of the order between Cook and 24-year-old Robson.
“Chris has obviously played really well in one day cricket so hopefully he can carry on that form he’s had into Test cricket. Moeen is very exciting player, he’s played good cricket when he’s been in an England shirt and (Sam) Robson is exciting to have that partnership with Cooky.
“It would be nice if he can carry on the form he’s produced with Middlesex over the past two years because he’s been a massive run machine for Middlesex so if that continues its good for us.”
There has been talk of added spice to the series after the final ODI ended on a sour note with Jos Buttler run-out whilst backing up at the non-strikers end but Bell believes that shouldn’t effect things.
“I’m sure it will all start off well but I’m sure it won’t be far away if something else creeps into the game. We are desperate to win this game and the series and I’m sure Sri Lanka are the same so it will be a good Test series with some world class players on both sides.
“Hopefully if the weather holds like this then we will have two great Test Matches ahead of us.”
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