England in Pakistan 2005-06 November 9, 2005

Bell will score 5,000 Test runs, says Stewart

Cricinfo staff

Ian Bell 'just needs to mature as a cricketer' © Getty Images

Alec Stewart, the former England captain, has come out in support of Ian Bell, who looked to be dropped for the Tests against Pakistan but now has a chance of making it back into the team because of Michael Vaughan's injury.

"I believe he will score 5,000 Test runs - he's going to be that good a player," said Stewart, one of just 16 England players to pass that mark. "I believe Bell will be that good that we've got to stick with him."

Bell scored 297 runs in his first three Tests but struggled against Australia, with two half-centuries and seven single-figure scores during the Ashes. He also struggled in the opening tour match in Pakistan, when he made just three in two innings and was then left out of the side that lost to Pakistan A.

But Stewart, Bell's mentor and agent, told BBC Radio Five Live: "He just needs to mature as a cricketer. He won't come up against anything tougher than this Ashes series he's just played in. Even though he didn't set the world alight, he will have learned so much and that will turn him into a better international cricketer."

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Dominic Cork, the former England fast bowler, questioned the selection of Paul Collingwood as an allrounder for the series. "I'd rather see an out-and-out batter. If Collingwood is the next best batsman in line then fair enough but he wouldn't be my choice." But Stewart differed with his former team-mate. "Duncan Fletcher doesn't make too many bad judgement calls and he believes Collingwood is a special player."