England in New Zealand 2007-08 February 1, 2008

Bell lines up as possible captain

Cricinfo staff


Ian Bell could find himself thrust into the captaincy hot seat if Paul Collingwood picks up any injuries © AFP
 
Ian Bell has emerged as a candidate to captain England during the one-dayers against New Zealand if Paul Collingwood suffers any injury problems. It had been expected that Kevin Pietersen would take up the job if Collingwood misses any matches but Peter Moores, England's coach, has been talking up the potential of Bell.

He is a former England Under-19s captain and has impressed the management with his sharp tactical awareness. After an uncertain period at ODI level Bell is now a settled member of the team at No. 3. When Collingwood was named as captain last July, Pietersen distanced himself from the role saying he wanted to concentrate on his batting.

Collingwood has given England a few moments of concern in the early days of their tour after suffering a back spasm and having some pain in his shoulder. He is expected to be fit for the two warm-up matches against Canterbury over the weekend and, as is their preferred way, England don't have an official vice captain.

"We've got two or three decent options within the side," said Moores. "We've got people like Ian Bell, who has captained Under-19s and is potentially a captain. He has a very good tactical cricket brain and we also have someone like Alastair Cook, although it is very early for him yet.

"We do have different options in the team and part of the job in any team is that you don't just want captains but you want internal leaders and that's what makes a side work."

Along with who would lead the side if Collingwood was injured, Moores said there were one or two places still to be settled ahead of the first Twenty20 on February 5. England will field 13 players in their first warm-up match against Canterbury and 12 in the second as they try to narrow down the options with the likes of Dimitri Mascarenhas and Luke Wright aiming to find a place.

"A lot of the side is settled after those two series wins [against India and Sri Lanka] and that side has established itself," he said. "We have jiggled a bit with that side for conditions. Mascarenhas played quite a key role in the India series, but did not feature in Sri Lanka.

"We need to get our balance right but in general the lads have performed pretty well, so there won't be massive changes."

One player unlikely to feature, at least early on in the one-day leg, is wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose. Although Moores has made it clear that the spot is up for grabs, Phil Mustard appears set to keep his place after some promising displays in Sri Lanka while Ambrose gets used to the international scene.

"It's a great experience for Tim. He's played with the Lions before and it's a great chance to get involved with the main team," added Moores. "We know he's had a good season and I know him quite well obviously from his time at Sussex. He's a very talented keeper but he's also a talented batter, but at the moment he's getting his feet under the table."