England batsman Ian Bell has exclusively told GiveMeSport he has what it takes to play T20 cricket for his country and could make a return to the shortest format of the game against Sri Lanka at the Oval this evening.
The 32-year-old last took to the field in an international T20 way back in 2011 against Australia and despite being a late call-up for the recent tour of West Indies and the World T20 in Bangladesh he hasn’t been given a chance.
England have tended to go for the ‘big hitters’ at the top of the order with Alex Hales, Luke Wright and Michael Lumb consistently rewarded for their fine domestic form while Bell’s seven games for his country have still been successful.
After making his debut against Pakistan in 2006 he struggled to command a place in the team yet his last three scores were 60*, 27 and 39 suggests he can adapt with his overall strike rate at 120. With no Lumb or Wright in the squad a position to open is up for grabs with Michael Carberry also vying for the spot to join Hales.
Incredibly, Bell has not played a T20 game for anybody since January 2011 despite being on top of his game in Test and ODI cricket over the past two years. That is something he is looking to change at the Oval this evening and as he explained to GiveMeSport it has been a tricky to get a game.
“It has been hard work, it is difficult to play domestic t20 because there is a one day international series on so you miss out domestically then if you aren’t selected for your country then you end up playing no T20 cricket.
“For me I have to play to my strengths, you look at guys like Virat Kohli, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Kane Williamson they are guys at the top of the order playing proper cricket shots. We are not all fortunate enough like Chris Gayle and able to hit the ball 150 yards but we have to play to our strengths.
“You can do that by playing over the in-field, score of lots of deliveries but like I said those guys have showed everybody else the way to play in international T20 cricket by scoring of most balls and using their skills to hit the ball 360 degrees around the ground. Yes, you have to hit boundaries and sixes and that is part and parcel of the game, using a mixed game does work.”
The majority of the 13-man squad to face Sri Lanka travelled up to Scotland earlier this month in a one-off ODI (which was reduced to 20-overs-a-side) as England triumphed by 39 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method. The Warwickshire batsman hit 50 in that game and he said it was great to get off to a positive start under Peter Moores.
“It was nice to have some time together at Loughborough to see some new faces and obviously the new management and coaching staff so it’s been a good time. Everyone is assessing everything, especially the management side in terms of the players they have got.
“It has been a nice time and the nets we have had at the Oval this week have been good and hopefully we can take this period of time into the game today and the one-day series,” said Bell.
“It is still very early days in terms of the new management, we haven’t done a great deal of talking but we have done a lot of time in the nets but the players have been doing a lot of talking together so it is very early days but it has been good fun, very relaxed and hopefully that will help us get back to winning ways this summer.”
England know their opposition well after their six wicket victory marked Sri Lanka’s only loss en-route to lifting the world crown last month and Bell says he cannot wait to face the challenge if selected.
“Sri Lanka are a world class side and they have proved that by winning the World Cup. They have world class players and players that potentially can go down as great players.
“It’s going to be a great one-day series and they beat us in the ICC Trophy and we went on to the final so they know the conditions well now and they have players that have been playing county cricket recently as well. They will be in a good place and it will be a real tough challenge for us.”
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