Bell belies reputation for soft runs
Just weeks after being embarrassingly bowled leaving a Paul Harris delivery, Ian Bell has produced a scrapping innings that showed off his temperament and grit. After his nearly five-hour vigil in the second innings helped save the Cape Town Test, no one can question whether he's mentally strong enough for the international level, writes Steve James in the Daily Telegraph.
Only the exceptionally mean-minded will surely even question now. This was his moment of truth and he answered it emphatically. He may not have actually been there at the end, but he saved his team from defeat. There were no easy, pretty runs on offer here.
Vic Marks writes in the Guardian that in the toughest of situations, Bell has played his finest innings, which should earn him some respite from the arm-chair critics.
When Bell came to the crease in the morning the pitch was still true, but the situation was already taut. He dealt with the crisis points adroitly.
There were no great alarms in the first few minutes when every batsman is vulnerable. He did not leave deliveries from Harris. Against the second new ball, another crisis moment, he was fortuitous in that he found himself at Morne Morkel's end. Normally this is not the place to be, but Steyn bowled a spell of superb quality mostly at Collingwood (29 deliveries out of 36). Still he played Morkel skilfully.
The third crisis was when Collingwood departed, soon to be followed by Matt Prior. Even without the Collingwood comfort blanket he remained calm, outwardly, at least, almost to the end.