At a time when the cricketing world is dominated by power hitters, there still exist some elegant players; one of those is Ian Bell.
Born on April 11, 1982, Ian Ronald Bell was destined for great things. Described by Dayle Hadlee as the best 16-year old he had ever seen, Bell was an exquisite timer of the cricket ball from an early age - unlike many of the younger players who believe in smoking it.
Educated at Princethorpe College, Bell is synonymous when it comes to those who started with hiccups in their career but eventually emerged as batting prodigies. He first made his debut for Warwickshire 1st team in 1999, getting out on a duck which kept him out of action for the whole season. At a delicate age like 17, this could have easily hammered young Bell's confidence but as they say, the ones who possess the art of perseverance are the ones that succeed. The Coventry star had that mettle to come back and he did so in the grittiest of fashions as he piled 836 runs in 16 innings with the help of 3 centuries and a couple scores of 98.
However, he experienced another speed breaker, particularly in the longest version. For two consecutive seasons did the 32-year-old average in the mid 20s in four-day cricket compared to his staggering 40+ average in limited overs. But before anyone could start questioning the right-hander's capability, he once again came back to his pristine best and blasted 1498 championship runs which included six tons - one of which was his career best 262* against Sussex.
With high expectations on him, he finally made his debut against West Indies, scoring 70 at The Oval and announcing that a modern-day great had stepped into international cricket. But yet again problems knocked on the door of England's 2013 Ashes as he couldn't do much on the tours to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Eyebrows were raised as to whether he deserved a place in the team or not but the act of crucifying backfired for the ones who did so as Bell roared against Bangladesh with unbeaten knocks of 65 and 162 in the two innings he played.
The biggest of tests was yet to be passed though for this man; The Ashes. Known to be the series that defines an Englishman, unfortunately for Ian Bell it was nothing less than a horror. With just two fifties in 10 matches and an average of 17.50, the top-order batsman wasn't gawky in describing it as a time when he doubted himself.
The team management though showed faith in the right hander and selected him for the tours to India and Pakistan. Coming in due to Michael Vaughan's injury, he once more proved his worth scoring 313 runs in three matches (one hundred, two half centuries) against Pakistan, though he was average in the following series against India and the struggle was to continue for a few years to come with just a few highs experienced.
The times really wanted to see what this lad was made of. Since his bursting onto the international scene to the period of late 2009, Bell has had loads of ups and downs. All these years, whereas he scored eight test match centuries, he still wasn't quite respected much due to inconsistency. From an average of around 48 earlier, the man from Walsgrave witnessed it coming as low as 39.
Today in 2014, one can easily call Bell one of the best in business.
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