England v West Indies, 1st ODI, West End June 15, 2012

Bell doubtful after blow to jaw

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Few people expect Ian Bell to assume Kevin Pietersen's one-day role for England with quite the same flamboyance as his predecessor, but his first audition for the role could hardly have been more disheartening as he took a blow on the chin in net practice which has left him a doubtful starter for the first one-day international against West Indies at West End.

Bell, who was in line to open the batting after Pietersen's premature retirement from England's one-day side, top-edged a pull while facing throw-downs in the indoor nets from the fielding coach, Richard Halsall.

With blood pouring from the wound, and a cleaning-up operation underway in the net, he was taken to hospital where he received ten stitches and underwent X-rays.

The ECB confirmed on Friday evening that he had "a possible non-displaced fracture of the mandibular condyle." In layman's terms, he has been struck on the lower jaw and is unlikely to be eating or chatting too enthusiastically for a while. England planned to delay a decision until the morning of the match, but the prognosis was not encouraging.

When it came to replacing Pietersen, people questioned whether he could walk the walk; now he could not even talk the talk.

Alastair Cook, England's captain in 50-over cricket, had anticipated questions about how they would cope without Pietersen. "We have won one-day games before without him - clearly he'll be missed, but we'll move on as a team," was his stock answer to that.

But to be asked to ponder how England could then best manage without the batsman earmarked to replace Pietersen was a stroke of ill luck he could not have anticipated. Ravi Bopara has ambitions to open but, by his own admission on Thursday, they are not quite as pronounced when the ball is swinging and seaming in England; Craig Kieswetter's technique has been found lacking; and to promote Jonathan Trott from No. 3 might be viewed as even more disruptive. If Bell had the painful jaw, Cook was left to cope with the headache.

'It is a concern because he didn't look in a good way when he walked off," Cook said. "There was quite a lot of blood and he has had stitches. We'll announce the team at the toss like we normally do. We'll just have to play that one by ear. Emergencies can come up in any game. That's why you've got a squad."

Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, said: "I don't think any cricketer wants to see an opposing player get injured, or will take pleasure in that. It is unfortunate for him. But we have to focus on other things."

The first of three games in the NatWest Series gets underway on Saturday, with West Indies set to welcome back Chris Gayle for his first international appearance in more than a year.

West Indies have not won a one-day series away from home against an international side other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since they beat England 2-1 five years ago, under Gayle's captaincy.

For all that, they are in the rare position of being termed favourites by the English media. "I have not heard favourite and West Indies in the same sentence for a long time but it is good that you recognise that," Sammy said. "England in England is always difficult but we believe as a team that we should win the one-day series."

England calculate that the emphasis on West Indies' considerable six-hitting prowess fails to take account of the rule change that sees the use of two new balls. In English conditions, that shifts the onus back to a more traditional approach in the first half of the innings. It is also likely to see them field four fast bowlers, with Tim Bresnan batting at No. 7.

"Clearly we need people at the top of the order with good techniques and with myself and hopefully Belly at the top we can do that," Cook said. "It's about winning games of cricket and we've won the last five series at home. We're a tough team to beat in our conditions."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pablo123 on June 18, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    As I said earlier in this post, a tiny injury like that is not going to rule out anyone...... silly people, and he went on to make a 100. pfffffst

  • JG2704 on June 16, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    @TheLight on (June 16 2012, 07:09 AM GMT) sounds to me like "The light is on but no one's home"

  • JG2704 on June 16, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    @Rally_Windies on (June 15 2012, 14:35 PM GMT) Funny how you imply Bell didn't want to play WI so feigned an injury and then it turns out that Gayle is the man who picks up an injury? So does this mean by your logic that Gayle is scared of playing against England? Also funny how Gayle decided to start playing tests - AFTER the tough 2 series vs England and Australia.

  • jmcilhinney on June 16, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    @TheLight on (June 16 2012, 07:09 AM GMT), we're all getting a bit tried of stupid comments about teams "making excuses". Do you really think that Ian Bell purposely top-edged a pull shot into his face and fractured his jaw so that England could have something to blame IF they lose the series against basically the same team that they beat back in the WC that, unlike this series, was not played in their home conditions? Now that Chris Gayle has an injury, are we to believe that WI are getting their excuses ready?

  • dummy4fb on June 16, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Gayle can really bounce back with a good knock. Only thing he needs to do is play carefully not like T20. Singles are more important which can win matches & odd boundry win help you acceralate the run rate.

  • SNIFFLEATHER on June 16, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    Grampy doesn't play (reportedly due to a foot injury), but hopefully the crowd and viewers will still be entertained by two competitive sides. The shorter the format, the closer the difference of quality between teams. If the weather holds out, should be an interesting series. Shout out to Windies 'A', who go up against a talented India 'A' in the third and final 'test' later today with the series tied at 1-1. Good luck boys, you can be very proud of the way that you have played so far, now finish the job and win the series.

  • Munkeymomo on June 16, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @TheLight: Yes, a fractured jaw is one of the oldest excuses in the book, up there with "My dog ate it". :P

  • Min2_cric on June 16, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    i dont think dat chris gayle will be able to encounter jimmy anderson's swinging deliveries...englands gotcha win...

  • riley22 on June 16, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    how much does Gayle want to play?

  • ThirteenthMan on June 16, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    "The ECB confirmed on Friday evening that he had "a possible non-displaced fracture of the mandibular condyle."

    Confirmed?? Yes, that is what we all suspected!!

    Why do so many people misuse "confirm(ed)"?

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