Bell states his England case
Somerset 70 for 0 (Trescothick 27*, Suppiah 31*) trail Warwickshire 500 (Bell 172, Troughton 77, Woakes 63, Ambrose 57, Phillips 4-100) by 430 runs
Ian Bell enhanced his prospects of an England recall as he took the honours for the second day running at Taunton. Bell, who started the day on 84, finished with 172 but still felt he had more to offer on a surface full of runs. He had clearly set his eyes on something even more substantial as a hint to the national selectors.
However, it was Jim Troughton who set the pace at the start of the day, cutting the third ball from Omari Banks for four and running to 77 before he dabbed at a delivery from Charl Willoughby and was caught at third slip. Bell was then on 96, but shortly afterwards turned the same bowler to long leg for a single to reach three figures off 185 deliveries.
Then he set out his stall for his second century, and it seemed as if little could stop him, as much of the bowling was scarcely of first-class standard. Banks was unimpressive, unable to strike a good length, and only Willoughby and Zander de Bruyn had any reason to feel they had done a job. The light was poor, although the threatened rain failed to materialize, but Bell and the acting captain Tim Ambrose shared a steady partnership that lasted until after lunch and was to realize 141. Ambrose, from his squat-like stance, played a busy innings to provide the perfect foil for the man who at that stage looked a class above everybody else on the field.
After the interval much of the bowling continued to be wild and woolly, and it was to his intense chagrin that Bell finally flicked at a ball from Ben Phillips down the leg side and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, who had much acrobatic practice during the day, hung on to a fine diving catch.
In quick succession Rikki Clarke was caught at the wicket off a superb lifter produced by Mark Turner out of nowhere, and then Banks found flight and spin for one ball, at least, to bowl Ambrose for 57. At 365 for 7 it seemed that the Somerset bowlers had pulled their wiring together.
It was not to last, though. Warwickshire have a strong tail, and they were helped by the unexpected appearance of the sun, which stopped the ball from swinging. Neil Carter played some good strokes, most notably swats over extra cover, for 21, and then Chris Woakes, who hadn't scored a first-class 50 before, found good support from Ant Botha and James Anyon.
The last wicket added 67, surviving until after the delayed tea interval and reaching the heights of 500 before Woakes, on 63, edged a catch to second slip. His innings included a six over midwicket off a long hop from Banks. Phillips, who bowled like the curate's egg, finished with four wickets and the long-suffering Willoughby had three. It was the first time Warwickshire had reached 500 against Somerset, beating their 474 for 5 at Edgbaston in 1973.
Somerset got off to a trouble-free start, as the Warwickshire seamers also struggled to shake off the winter cobwebs. Marcus Trescothick played in phlegmatic style and was actually outpaced by the confident Arul Suppiah, who scored more runs off fewer deliveries. With 70 on the board in such easy fashion, it already appears that the match is doomed to be a draw on a good pitch, unless the bowlers can make a remarkable improvement.