Bell determined to silence critics
Ian Bell is determined to silence those who have doubted his ability to perform at international level. Although he hit two fifties at Old Trafford this summer against Australia, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne held the wood over him: he scored just 171 runs in the five-Test series. He refuses to be disheartened with his summer feats, however. "My confidence and self-belief is the same as it was before I walked out to bat in the first Test at Lord's," he told The Sunday Mirror.
England's selectors showed their commitment by including him in the Test squad to tour Pakistan and, despite a poor summer, Bell is confident he has learnt plenty from his first Ashes series. "I feel I'm a better player for what I have been through this summer," he said. "If you don't learn anything by playing with - and against - the best bowlers and batsmen in the world, then you have a problem."
He feels the experience of facing two of the greatest bowlers of all time stands him in good stead for the tour to Pakistan in November: "Pakistan is a place where if you can bat well you can score plenty of runs. If you can play spin and get in you can do well. I'm confident I can have a good tour."
Alec Stewart, Bell's mentor, has recently become his agent and is confident that his young protégé is on the right track. "The experience he has got from the past few weeks in this series will stand him in good stead for the rest of his international career," Stewart told The Independent on Sunday.
"He has grown up as a cricketer, and probably started doing so from the very first ball at Lord's. He's going to be a very fine player indeed; there's something of the Michael Atherton about him."
The first Test between England and Pakistan gets underway in November.