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August 5, 2012

Ian Bell and the naked truth

Jarrod Kimber
Ian Bell looks back after leaving a delivery from Jacques Kallis, England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval,  2nd day, July 20, 2012
Ian Bell embarrassed himself with his dismissal in the first innings at Headingley  © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Arthur on (August 6, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

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

Posted by Dan on (August 6, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Completely agree with you.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!

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