Ian Bell is to take over as Warwickshire captain.

Dropped England batsman Ian Bell appointed as captain of Warwickshire

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Ian Bell is to take over as Warwickshire's new captain.

Five-time Ashes winner Bell will replace Varun Chopra in charge at Edgbaston, at a time when his international future is far from certain.

Bell, 33, was a shock omission from England's current Test squad in South Africa - where they have gone on to pull off a series victory against the world's number one team.

His outstanding 118-Test career is therefore at a crossroads, and he has taken the decision to lead his home county - for whom he has played since 1999.

Bell, who has already retired from limited-overs international cricket, said: "The club and Edgbaston have been a huge part of my life since an early age, and in the past I have made no secret of my desire to captain the Bears.

"I am very proud to now be given the opportunity to lead this exciting squad and to challenge for titles in all forms of the game."

Bell previously led Warwickshire to victory in the 2010 Lord's CB40 final, in which he also made a century, and stood in for Chopra too when his fellow batsman was out injured for a spell two years ago.

He added: "We have a strong programme of pre-season fixtures ahead and we will all be working very hard to ensure we're in the best possible shape for the first game of the County Championship away to Hampshire on 10 April."

Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown is confident Bell will be successful in his new role.

He said: "In Ian Bell we have one of the most celebrated cricketers in the club's history, who has worn the Bear and Ragged Staff (club badge) since the age of 10 and has played at the very highest level of the game since 2004.

"He is an excellent role model for the younger members of the squad and will build on the great work Varun has done in leading Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears with huge pride and proficiency."

Chopra too earned high praise from Brown.

"Varun has been one of the most prolific batsmen in the county game since he joined the club and he has made a huge contribution as an opener and captain, scoring 14 first-class centuries and helping us transform in to one of the top Twenty20 sides in the country," Brown said.

"As a team we fully understand and respect his decision to focus on his batting at the top of the order to help the team get off to the best possible start."

Chopra, 28, led Warwickshire to the NatWest t20 Blast trophy in front of their own supporters two years ago.

He said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as captain of the Bears and regard our NatWest t20 Blast success in 2014 as one of the best moments of my career.

"While it has been a difficult decision to make, I feel that focusing on my batting is in the best interests of the team - and I'm looking forward to fully supporting Ian, scoring as many runs as possible and contributing to more success in 2016 and beyond.

"I would like to thank the players, coaches and members for their support throughout my tenure."

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