England in India 2012-13 November 23, 2012

I was trying too hard - Bell

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ian Bell has admitted trying "a bit too hard" to prove himself in India after his heavily-criticised first-ball dismissal in the opening Test in Ahmedabad but insists he will not stop trying to attack spin bowlers in the future.

Bell lofted his first ball from Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, straight to Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off the delivery after Kevin Pietersen had been dismissed and it left England in tatters at 69 for 5 replying to India's 521 for 8 dec. He played more sensibly in the second innings, reaching 22 before being trapped lbw by Umesh Yadav, but his record in India now stands at an average of 18.36 from six Tests.

"Lately I have been trying a bit too hard to show everyone I can score in India," Bell said in his Independent newspaper column. "I need to relax and trust my defence and know that if I spend time at the crease it will happen. I still have a lot of confidence about playing in the subcontinent, I have scored runs against Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but India is the one place that I have not scored big and I know that is missing from my batting CV.

"Maybe from previous tours to the subcontinent I was thinking to myself that I wanted to be positive and not sit back and be passive. I know I have to get the balance right. It was a bit adventurous for a first ball but if you look back over my last 30 to 40 Tests, you'll see the amount of times that I have got off and running against spinners like that. I am not going to put the shot away but I will reassess when I use it next time."

Bell is missing the second Test, in Mumbai, having flown home to be with his newly born son, Joseph, after learning he was a father while sat at the airport. Knowing that the birth was imminent made for a tricky build-up to the series for him.

"The first month in India was a weird time, I had things in the back of my mind but I was just trying to concentrate on my cricket," he said. "I didn't feel like I was in the best form, I wasn't batting as well as I would've liked. I don't know if that was down to everything going on, sometimes it just happens like that."

Bell now faces the situation of watching Jonny Bairstow have a chance in the No. 5 position as he spends a few days on nappy-changing duty before returning to India for the third Test in Kolkata. However, despite handing over his England place he does not have any regrets about the trip home.

"On the cricketing side it's a difficult decision to give someone an opportunity to take your place but I wanted to be here for my family and it is the best thing I have ever done and that will never change."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on November 24, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    There's nothing that Bell can't do that Michael Clarke hasn't just done-ie score 4 doubles/triples in a year. Okay,so he is not about to get the captaincy,but otherwise he has that same graceful talent and no doubt desire. So get to it, Belly.

  • Jackie on November 24, 2012, 19:48 GMT

    Perhaps Front-Foot should think about his own comments because he contradicts himself at every turn. Bell took a risky shot which didn't tick any boxes, and is nothing to do with 'fruitless effort'. Compton might be accused of the latter in the first innings. Bell is responding to criticism of his innovation and self expression rather than following conformity. Trying too hard is not about working to a plan. Perhaps you are not familiar with the phrase? It means you are putting yourself under too much pressure to succeed. As for being the worst ever English team, I do suggest that you acquaint yourself with times when we hardly won for years.

  • John on November 23, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    Good luck with his new baby. I'm with JB in his thinking. It seems our selection policies are very rigid. I said before the matches that I was worried about Bell and I felt that England could have tried to get him some extra cricket in SL against some quality spin and missed a trick there - felt they could have done this with all our batsmen. Also felt that it was not sensible to play a player for 1 test and then have to replace him for the 2nd test - even if he did well. Would we not have been better off trying to pick a settled batting line up for the whole series.

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    There is no way one could have expected a big score from Bell in the first test. He only scores when the rest of the team scores. As the rest of the team performed badly (excluding Cook and Prior), it is too much to expect a big score from him. He has had too many chances. It is time he makes room for new blood.

  • j on November 23, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    I actually fill a smidgen of pity for Bell, as I've just become a father myself. He played a monstrosity of a shot in the 1st test that cost England dear, right at the time when they needed their middle order to show up. Given his track record in the last year of playing on spinning tracks he should've in hindsight stayed at home.

  • Jon on November 23, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    Hmm this article is interesting but in reality not particularly true. I am sure that with or without the prospect of fatherhood Bell would have struggled. I feel like he almost has the batting yips when it comes to facing spin in these conditions, and more than this he is far from alone. Now both Bell and KP are quality players but if you watched how they played in the first test it becomes apparent that they pre conceived how to make runs and did not play each ball as it comes. Being aggressive is fine but you at least need to give yourself a chance. You don't see Pujara prancing down first ball to try and hammer a straight six. Bell's shot was far less worrying than KP's because he is always at his best when trying to hit spinners striaght. Bell did at least go to his shot but really you need to get a grip with the pace of the deck before looking to go over the top. Personally I think the ECB should almost pick seperate squads, 1 for tours of the SC and 1 for other conditions.

  • Owen on November 23, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    Best of luck to you Belly lad. His skill has never been in doubt, its been his mind-set which has let him down. As any batsmen will tell you, this is as big a factor in success as technique, but technical problems are easier to address. I have great admiration for the way Bell came back from the mental-torture the Aussies gave him at the start of his career, and hopefully he can do the same now.

  • front on November 23, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    This article, and Bell's comments, i'm afraid, sums up what many feel is culturally wrong with English cricket. The argument "trying too hard" is really something for the school yard. The expression itself is pointless, and shows a culture with England that seems to value 'fruitless effort' rather than rewarding self expression, promoting innovation and giving the players freedom to think and adapt for themselves. It shows that box-ticking culture rampant in the team, where players are not held to account but fall back on flimsy excuses.

    Is hardly surprising though. The current travails see this team as being close to being entered into the ledger as the worst performance by any english team ever over the proceeding 12 months. The worst ever...think about that for a minute.

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