England captain Alastair Cook told Ian Bell exclusively through GiveMeSport, that: “Belly,” is the best player he has played with. A chorus of tributes have flooded in from his England team mates ahead of Bell joining the 100-Test club against Sri Lanka in the second Test at Headingley.
Few would doubt that Ian Bell is one of the most technically gifted players of his generation, and reaching the milestone is not only celebration of his incredibly natural ability, but just reward for all the hard work and adversity he has had to overcome in achieving his childhood dreams.
At just 16-years old, the talent of Bell was already being harnessed by England after being thrust into the England under-19 team.
Sixteen years on it appears that England made the right call as the Warwickshire man sits on the verge of joining the elite club of just 11 Englishman that have represented their country a century of times.
Captain Alastair Cook, England’s leading run-scorer, is already part of the elite list that includes greats like Sir Ian Botham, Alec Stewart, and Graham Gooch to name a few, and the opening batsman was delighted to pay the ultimate tribute to his team mate.
“Belly, congratulations on your 100th-game mate, an amazing achievement. In my eyes you are the best player I have played with and it has been a privilege to have played with you for so long.”
“Hopefully we have a few more years left in us. Congratulations again, brilliant achievement.”
Jimmy Anderson, probably the most likely player to reach the milestone next considering he is on 93-appearances, was also on hand to wish his team mate all the best.
“Congrats on 100-Tests mate, and absolutely huge achievement. Its been a pleasure to play with you over these years, and here is to another 100-Tests.”
Another team mate that is bound to join Bell down the line, Stuart Broad, was also full of praise for the 32-year-old.
“Congrats on your 100th-Test Belly, its a massive achievement and a huge honour to have played with you for all these years.”
“Not so fun to play against you play for Warwickshire at Trent Bridge when you score all your hundreds. Hopefully you have many more Tests in you, and many more Test hundreds because it is a pleasure to watch you from the change room, and you have won us many a game.”
Bell is clearly held in very high esteem by his team mates, and after playing out the messages to him you could sense the pride and team ethic in the man.
“The only thing that matters is the guys that you share that dressing room with, and to hear those messages is very special.”
It has been a long journey for Bell so far which has see him go from: “Bad haircuts and bad clothes,” to being a family man.
“I have changed as a person so much, and my cricket matured differently as well. And like I said with a family now it feels so different”
“We are very lucky to do what we are doing. We get to travel the world with your mates and meet people that you never would have done and it is all through cricket.”