August 5, 2012

Ian Bell and the naked truth

There was a time when I thought that instead of playing Test Cricket; Ian Bell should be oiled up, naked and playing his cover drive in a giant birdcage at parties
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There was a time when I thought that instead of playing Test Cricket; Ian Bell should be oiled up, naked and playing his cover drive in a giant birdcage at parties. It was just such a perfect looking shot, one that might have been designed with a Keatsian obsession with beauty. As for bringing him many runs in Test cricket, that looked less likely. The birdcage seemed the best way to go.

That was the old Ian Bell, the nervous Ian Bell, the Ian Bell who one minute could play a cover drive so good that Leonard Cohen would write it a song and then next minute miss a straight ball that would make his mother consider changing her name.

The new Ian Bell is something else: when he's in his special happy place, the ball dances off his pretty blade like a butterfly on a beautiful spring day. He's almost impregnable to danger. Technically sound, mentally tight, and easy. No matter who he plays against, when he's in that magic mode, it looks like you could fire bricks, missiles or copies of 50 Shades of Grey at him, and nothing would get through him.

Since 2010 he's averaged over 60 from a guy who was dropped in 2009.

The old Ian Bell never seems too far away though. Yapping at the heels of the improved model and occasionally biting him.

Everyone has their own theory on the run out against India at Trent Bridge. But one thing that can't be denied was that Ian Bell had a massive lapse of concentration that caused a stupid mistake. In the UAE for the series against Pakistan, he batted like someone threatened to burn all his video games if he made runs. And yesterday, well. Ian Bell's stroke from yesterday should be shot behind a curtain and fed to unfussy dog.

It was disgusting to look at, it's only redeeming feature was that Ian Bell didn't fall over playing it. There is no way to describe this in words and do its awfulness justice.

If Simon Katich, Phil Hughes or Shiv Chanderpaul had played this shot it would have been awful looking, and mocked, but people would have forgotten the image soon enough. For Ian Bell to play a shot that was cricket's equivalent of placing a plastic bag of vomit in the washing machine, it was so much worse. It's just there, in my brain, wildly swinging with no footwork near my primary somatosensory cortex.

No one can keep their beauty forever, but you don't have to give it away with a wild unbalanced swing like that. Belly, you're prettier than that.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Calland on August 9, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Superbly written, witty piece. Clearly some of the respondents above don't understand the role of a columnist. Keep doing it! And, by the way, your later piece on KP was one of the best around, rightly placing responsibility at the door of the employer/management.

  • JackieL on August 8, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    Interesting that Vaughan admitted that he had got out to the same shot as Bell. So the same bag of vomit in the washing machine might apply? Not exactly a good line by the way Mr Kimber. If you are going to admonish a fine batsman for a poor shot might be a good idea to make sure your own shots are not poor. KP got out to a terrible shot in his second innings at Headingley and so blew apart our chances of a chase. But that didn't take anything away from his wonderful first innings. We didn't get a mention of that in your eulogy for Kevin. Taking a cheap shot at Bell was a favourite pastime of the kids on the block trying to look smart and cool. Funny how he was the one to buckle down for five hours to try to save the day for England when the rest of the side took a day off including KP. Fine stroke player he may be, but Bell knows how to occupy the crease when needed. That is why he was held back to shut up shop when the chase failed. Steyn cranked up his game but couldn't shift him.

  • Deep on August 6, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    Seriously? Did the author start taking the 'sadist' too seriously? Harping on about one shot, wastefully repetitive and patronizing other top class batsmen (albeit with different approach to run-scoring and a different playing stance). Utterly pointless journalism!

  • Simon on August 6, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    Hope nobody paid you to create this pointless, ill-written rubbish. You seem to be saying that Ian Bell, usually good to watch, played an uncharacteristically poor shot and got out. Is that it? At least somebody kindly checked your spelling for you, which was good of them.

  • Deb on August 6, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    Phil Hughes, ok.Simon Katich, not so sure.But Chanderpaul? Are you serious? Every thing has it's limit, even patronising. I will bet my last penny, Bell will never achieve what Chanderpaul has.Looking pretty is fine only when it puts runs on the board.

  • Arthur on August 6, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    @Jordan: Well said mate. Just what came to my mind too, all of it.

  • Dan on August 6, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    Completely agree with you.

  • Tim on August 6, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @AF, you've never read Kimbers articles before I see. He's not here to give hard hitting news pieces, he provides a different view on the game. If he wastes your time that much don't waste more time commenting. I enjoyed it. Keep it up Jarrod.

  • Backwater on August 6, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Good piece. Nice to read something that is not so straightforward and is original. The criticisms just seem to be from people who don't "get" cricket to the same level that you do.

  • Edward on August 6, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    ..."plastic bag of vomit in the washing machine"... What kind of a writer is this? And he has the temerity to speak about Bell's shot!

  • Calland on August 9, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Superbly written, witty piece. Clearly some of the respondents above don't understand the role of a columnist. Keep doing it! And, by the way, your later piece on KP was one of the best around, rightly placing responsibility at the door of the employer/management.

  • JackieL on August 8, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    Interesting that Vaughan admitted that he had got out to the same shot as Bell. So the same bag of vomit in the washing machine might apply? Not exactly a good line by the way Mr Kimber. If you are going to admonish a fine batsman for a poor shot might be a good idea to make sure your own shots are not poor. KP got out to a terrible shot in his second innings at Headingley and so blew apart our chances of a chase. But that didn't take anything away from his wonderful first innings. We didn't get a mention of that in your eulogy for Kevin. Taking a cheap shot at Bell was a favourite pastime of the kids on the block trying to look smart and cool. Funny how he was the one to buckle down for five hours to try to save the day for England when the rest of the side took a day off including KP. Fine stroke player he may be, but Bell knows how to occupy the crease when needed. That is why he was held back to shut up shop when the chase failed. Steyn cranked up his game but couldn't shift him.

  • Deep on August 6, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    Seriously? Did the author start taking the 'sadist' too seriously? Harping on about one shot, wastefully repetitive and patronizing other top class batsmen (albeit with different approach to run-scoring and a different playing stance). Utterly pointless journalism!

  • Simon on August 6, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    Hope nobody paid you to create this pointless, ill-written rubbish. You seem to be saying that Ian Bell, usually good to watch, played an uncharacteristically poor shot and got out. Is that it? At least somebody kindly checked your spelling for you, which was good of them.

  • Deb on August 6, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    Phil Hughes, ok.Simon Katich, not so sure.But Chanderpaul? Are you serious? Every thing has it's limit, even patronising. I will bet my last penny, Bell will never achieve what Chanderpaul has.Looking pretty is fine only when it puts runs on the board.

  • Arthur on August 6, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    @Jordan: Well said mate. Just what came to my mind too, all of it.

  • Dan on August 6, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    Completely agree with you.

  • Tim on August 6, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @AF, you've never read Kimbers articles before I see. He's not here to give hard hitting news pieces, he provides a different view on the game. If he wastes your time that much don't waste more time commenting. I enjoyed it. Keep it up Jarrod.

  • Backwater on August 6, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Good piece. Nice to read something that is not so straightforward and is original. The criticisms just seem to be from people who don't "get" cricket to the same level that you do.

  • Edward on August 6, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    ..."plastic bag of vomit in the washing machine"... What kind of a writer is this? And he has the temerity to speak about Bell's shot!

  • longmemory on August 6, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Another pathetic attempt at cricket journalism by Mr Kimber. Spare us this guy's drivel - please.

  • Venki on August 6, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    I am sorry.. I don't think I understood the humour part of this.. may be I don't have sense of humour... may be I should improve my English..

  • Cloudmess on August 6, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    I always enjoy these articles and always dread the comments afterwards. Cricket is entertainment. It is not real life. Its fascination is that it is a game played by human beings, capable of great beauty and courage, but also prone to disastrous error. This article light-heartedly speculates on the appeal (and occasional frustration) of Ian Bell. It is then followed by all these angry, boorish, humourless comments. To read the article and then the comments is to experience a crisp cover drive for 4, followed by an ungainly heave.

  • Indiarox4ever on August 6, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Here we go again. Shelly and Keats spring up even when an English batsman has played an ugly stroke to get out. High time people realize that these poems will turn into horror tales as soon as these Knights step out of Fortress England. One can safely exclude players like Cook, Trott and KP though

  • NG on August 6, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    Let Alex be, guys. He isn't commenting on Bell's playing prowess. Its the sexiness of how he plays which is tough to take eyes away from, and that is what Alex is trying to point out. And also, the mention of Katich et al is not to take away from their stature as efficient batsmen. In fact, its to emphasize exactly that - they they are not pretty to look at when they are batting, but strictly efficient.

  • Sagar on August 6, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    The naked truth is batsmen like Bell does well in Home conditions just like most of the batsmen in the world and looks average in alien condition and so against high quality bowling even in home conditions. Its that English and Indian media are notorious is praising someone for one good day, adding all the adjectives in the dictionary and belittle the next day if its a bad day. So better the batsman be the way he is without undue pressure.

  • abdel mohammed on August 6, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Bell and Bopara should be used in alternating matches both are good on their day but none should be regarded better than the other.I would have Bopara in certain conditions before Bell because he is a better than good bowler.

  • abdel mohammed on August 6, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Bell and Bopara should be used in alternating matches both are good on their day but none should be regarded better than the other.I would have Bopara in certain conditions before Bell because he is a better than good bowler.

  • V for Vendetta on August 6, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    I think it's rather unfair to go on at Ian Bell for his shot selection. Yes, he produced one of the worst strokes at an awful time in the innings, but come on, no one is perfect. Everyone slips up now and then. Let's not forget that he was the sole fighter in England's second innings at The Oval. When everyone else fell like dominoes, he stuck it out for England and could've saved the match had he had more support.

  • hater of this blog on August 6, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    what a dull comment to write about someone is easy, why include this name Phil Hughes Chanderpual this guy is stupid and i should say this is not chuck any more

  • Vinay Sachinist on August 6, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    The pic shows his first innings dismissal in the first test, where as the heading below the pic says that it was from headingly test. Some correction needed!!!

  • Anonymous on August 6, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Have you ever seen Dhoni or sehwag batting? They still manage to get fours with that... Then you people will call it cheeky which implies always high risk

  • raj on August 6, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    Have you ever seen Dhoni or sewhag... They still manage to get fours with the same shot...

  • Sid on August 6, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @all: please read the title of the column.. 'the cricket sadist' and get real.. this article is supposed to be a mean take on the sport and it's players..

  • Anonymous on August 6, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    whats wrong with this guy. Stick to Two Chuks dude.

  • Shaki.J on August 6, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    That mistake that Ian Bell made didn't seem that terrible.He is allowed to make a mistake & I don't think he is that elegant in any case,especially not against Saeed Ajmal!

  • Jacob on August 6, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Good to see the "Very Serious People" are commenting in force today. I didn't actually see the shot in question, but have a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth just from reading the blog. Where did the Ian Bell of a year a ago... go?

  • Deano on August 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Its not like they have another South African import ready to replace him. They have to make do. Stay positive England!

  • Kandarp on August 6, 2012, 3:58 GMT

    Whats your problem Sir? This article belongs to pile of waste with a label "Read at your own risk"... Seriously, a mind-boggling article...

  • Earl J on August 6, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    It is funny that if a batsman gives an early chance and continues to make a good total he automatically becomes a good batsman.Bell has been known to be a nervous starter and not very confident against spinners that bowl both ways.If Bopara had made a stroke like Bell played there would be calls to never play him again.

  • Jordan on August 5, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    'If Simon Katich, Phil Hughes or Shiv Chanderpaul had played this shot it would have been awful looking, and mocked, but people would have forgotten the image soon enough.' What an utterly patronising thing to say about cricketers of the quality of Katich and Chanderpaul. Perhaps the 'naked truth' about Ian Bell is that, apart from 2 years against inferior opposition, he's never actually been that good.

  • BlindedView on August 5, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    My gosh!!It was just a shot!!Just one damn shot!!Let him be,he knows he made a mistake!Yes sir,we have to accept..we all make mistakes..even the greatest of them!!He will come back from this.The english media has a habit of blowing everything out of proportion!!

  • AF on August 5, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    And whats your point? Wasted 3 mins of my life dude....

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  • AF on August 5, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    And whats your point? Wasted 3 mins of my life dude....

  • BlindedView on August 5, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    My gosh!!It was just a shot!!Just one damn shot!!Let him be,he knows he made a mistake!Yes sir,we have to accept..we all make mistakes..even the greatest of them!!He will come back from this.The english media has a habit of blowing everything out of proportion!!

  • Jordan on August 5, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    'If Simon Katich, Phil Hughes or Shiv Chanderpaul had played this shot it would have been awful looking, and mocked, but people would have forgotten the image soon enough.' What an utterly patronising thing to say about cricketers of the quality of Katich and Chanderpaul. Perhaps the 'naked truth' about Ian Bell is that, apart from 2 years against inferior opposition, he's never actually been that good.

  • Earl J on August 6, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    It is funny that if a batsman gives an early chance and continues to make a good total he automatically becomes a good batsman.Bell has been known to be a nervous starter and not very confident against spinners that bowl both ways.If Bopara had made a stroke like Bell played there would be calls to never play him again.

  • Kandarp on August 6, 2012, 3:58 GMT

    Whats your problem Sir? This article belongs to pile of waste with a label "Read at your own risk"... Seriously, a mind-boggling article...

  • Deano on August 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Its not like they have another South African import ready to replace him. They have to make do. Stay positive England!

  • Jacob on August 6, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Good to see the "Very Serious People" are commenting in force today. I didn't actually see the shot in question, but have a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth just from reading the blog. Where did the Ian Bell of a year a ago... go?

  • Shaki.J on August 6, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    That mistake that Ian Bell made didn't seem that terrible.He is allowed to make a mistake & I don't think he is that elegant in any case,especially not against Saeed Ajmal!

  • Anonymous on August 6, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    whats wrong with this guy. Stick to Two Chuks dude.

  • Sid on August 6, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @all: please read the title of the column.. 'the cricket sadist' and get real.. this article is supposed to be a mean take on the sport and it's players..