Strauss confident 'world-class' Bell can deliver
Andrew Strauss believes 'world-class' Ian Bell has what it takes to replace the resting Kevin Pietersen at No. 3 for England in their one-day series against Bangladesh that starts July 8.
Bell has played 79 ODIs for England but hasn't featured since England played India in Bangalore back in November 2008. In his absence England have rebranded their limited-overs approach and have become more powerful and aggressive, a strategy that delivered the World Twenty20 and the recent 3-2 series victory over Australia.
While outside the England team Bell has performed well for Warwickshire and England Lions, making 158 in his most recent outing against India A and Strauss is sure he can bring that confidence into the three-match series.
"His form this year has been excellent," Strauss told reporters. "He's played, by all accounts, very positively and very aggressively for both Warwickshire and the Lions. He's a good package and potentially he is a world-class player."
Bell has made a big effort to transform his game and add more shots to a technique often associated with more finesse and he's been rewarded with a strike rate of 104.29 from his six Clydesdale Bank 40 games this year.
"He's always had the shots, the key is always when to use them," said Strauss. "At the moment, he's taking on the shots more and finding he's a good enough player they'll come off more times than not. He's really maturing as a cricketer. I don't think he's trying to prove to people he can play. He's more comfortable with his game and I think that's why his results have been better."
It's a mark of a player who has grown in confidence after a winter in which he finally answered the critics who said he only performed when the pressure was off. In South Africa he memorably hit 140 in England's win at Durban and followed it up with a five-hour 78 to help England save the next Test at Cape Town.
"He was very keen to play an innings of real substance when England were under pressure and he's been able to do that a couple of times in the last six months, which is a nice step forward for him," Strauss said.
Strauss's opposite number, Mashrafe Mortaza, said he thinks his side can be a slippery prospect in the limited-overs game and has backed his star batsman, Tamim Iqbal to continue where he left off after making successive hundreds in the Test series against England.
"I think we are a better team in one-day cricket than in Test cricket and I think this game suits us more," he said. "A few of the batsman in our side are in good form and hopefully a few other guys can join in.
"Tamim Iqbal is definitely a guy who can change the game for us. We are looking for him (to perform) but not just him: Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Jahurul Islam too. There are a few guys who can do good things for us and hopefully they will do that here."