Cricket

Is Ian Bell's time done?

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There was a time when you could spend your whole day watching Ian Bell bat.

Stroking cover drives, playing the ball gloriously late and having the feeling he just had so much more time than anyone else.

That time has gone.

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His batting this year, and arguably since the 2013/14 Ashes series, has been undeniably scratchy, tentative, ugly and lacking in fluency.

When he begins his innings he looks as likely as any club cricketer to be dismissed. Poking around outside his off stump and the late stroke timing that he used to perfect has disappeared. Now he's playing the ball well in front of his body and just looks jumpy.

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It's sad for any cricket fan to watch his decline from supreme stroke man to a scratchy and unconfident batsman. Bell, throughout his career, has been consistently inconsistent. It seems as soon as he is backed to do well he fails, his performances drop, he looks the old fidgety man of the 2005 Ashes series, constantly moving between balls, never switching off.

Since his century in Antigua earlier this year, he has an average of 19 from 20 innings. The most worrying thing perhaps is the fact that on 14 of those occasions he has not passed 15, getting out before he has even started.

He seems to doubt himself personally. At the end of the Ashes, rumours flew around that Bell may not even be going on this tour after he suggested he would need to have a look at himself after the series.

He seemed defeated, distraught and unconfident he would return.

Despite his knock of 60 in the first test, the only impression it left was Bell's batting against spin is in tatters.

The 33-year-old used to be the best English batsman at playing spin, he now makes a good case at being the worst, and such was the way that wicketless Zulfiqar Babar tied him up. Even in that innings he was dropped on one.

He may have been more positive in his last innings, but the time has come for England to move on from Bell. He has been a wonderful stalwart but now he has to go.

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Topics:
Ian Bell
Cricket
England cricket

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