Ian Bell has been named as England ‘Player of the Year’ for 2013, according to BBC Sport.
The Warwickshire batsman has been rewarded for his exploits in the home Ashes series, which the Three Lions won 3-0.
Bell hit 562 runs across the five Tests as England cruised to victory, with little idea of what was to come in the away series Down Under.
Indeed, considering England’s end to the year, there was arguably less to choose from than usual, but Bell is deserving of the award nonetheless. While there were few highlights Down Under, as Australia sealed a 5-0 whitewash, Bell’s three centuries and two fifties at home were unforgettable, and he has been one of the only consistent batsmen in the middle order.
As the side around him has crumbled in the last year – Kevin Pietersen was acrimoniously sacked from the England side, while Bell’s Warwickshire team mate Jonathan Trott has been in and out of the game with anxiety issues - Bell’s latest honour is perhaps a sign of gratitude from the ECB, and an attempt to recognise that he has essentially been England’s anchor throughout a stormy late 2013 and early 2014. In fact, his authority and serenity both on and off the pitch may even be envied by captain Alistair Cook, who unlike Bell, has found his position being questioned.
That may also explain Bell’s move up the order, as he played at number five in the home Ashes, while Warwickshire were also able to capitalise on his good form before he departed for international duty. Despite a duck in his first County Championship match of the season against Sussex as the Bears slipped to defeat, he went on to score 75 in the draw against Lancashire, before smashing 122 to help his side to victory against Nottinghamshire.
Bell has described the award as a “real honour”, particularly as the last five years have seen a progression in his game. He told the BBC that around 2009, he was: “Guilty of getting good runs at an easy time, but over the last five years I have started to get runs when it really mattered for the team.”
Meanwhile, England captain Charlotte Edwards has been named the ‘Women’s Player of the Year’. Her efforts have been recognised after she managed to ensure her side went one better than the men’s team, winning back-to-back Ashes series.
England U19s captain Will Rhodes was recognised as ‘England Development Programme Cricketer of the Year’, while Stephen George from the England Deaf Squad won the award of ‘England Disability Cricketer of the Year’.
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