Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day March 27, 2012

Bell pleased to rediscover batting form

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ian Bell was relieved to be back in the runs after making a half-century on day two in Galle, his innings of 52 amounting to more than his combined total during England's three Tests in the UAE earlier this year.

Bell's fifty was the main contribution to England's first-innings total of 193 and he was pleased to spend some time in the middle after a miserable series against Pakistan.

"It was nice to change a pair of gloves for the first time this winter," Bell said. "The foot movement was going well for both seamers and spinners so it's very nice. I've done a lot of practising and a lot of netting but just haven't had time out in the middle and felt quite out of nick. You need to be in good form when you play against good spin."

After making 835 runs against Sri Lanka and India during 2011, Bell was hailed as England's most attractive player. But he slumped against Pakistan, scoring just 51 at an average of 8.50 - almost 15 times lower than his mark in the summer.

"I've tried to get back to real basics and just watch the ball and let everything else take over," he said. "Sometimes you get so desperate to score runs it gets harder and harder. When you get across the line it's about scoring runs."

Bell was tormented by Saeed Ajmal in the UAE, unable to pick his doosra. But he has worked hard on his methods against spin, travelling out early to Sri Lanka for extra practice sessions while acclimatising.

"When you're in the nets you have to put things in place to test yourself to try and get better. All the way through the levels - and you can see in the Lions now - we know we all have to get better at playing spin it's a long-term goal but we're working to get better.

"We're working hard, getting in to good positions, using our feet, being able to go back. Everyone had their own gameplan, whether it's to be positive to use their feet or to hit over the top but you have to be right on it. If you don't get it right you're going to lose wickets."

England again crumbled against spin, losing eight wickets to slow bowling as Rangana Herath took his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests with 6 for 74. Herath eventually bowled Bell, spinning one past his outside edge - a delivery Bell might have played differently without the influence of DRS.

"You're more aware that you have to play more with the bat than the pad and in general you have to be hitting a lot of the balls," Bell said. "The game hasn't changed but there are more lbws. Now you have to play in front of your pad, you can't play with bat behind pad, and you have to get a good stride because it's not going to go over the top."

Edited by Alan Gardner

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 30, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    @zenboomerang I still feel Oz beating SL 1-0 was not THAT great (good but expected) and says more about how BAD we have been and think OZ's best result of the last year or so was drawing in SA esp after the 1st test. I was all for risking Broad but in a 5 man bowling attack. Again , if Broad was hampered - which it looked like he was - it seems crazy having just 2 seamers if one of them is carrying a knock. This has been one of my many reasons for playing 5 bowlers. I specifically mentioned this scenario and was proven right. I'm sure a fully fit Broad or even Finn or Bres might have made a big difference. Broad is now out of the next match so for me we have to go with Bres and Finn for Broad and Bell or KP. We'd then have 3 spin and 3 pace options. I agree with your views on selection and feel Engs best chances right now are of reducing the oppositions score further as opposed to trying to score more runs.

  • John on March 30, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @Meety on (March 29 2012, 11:33 AM GMT) That was on another , more recent thread. I'm a huge KP fan although I still feel Cook and Trott are our most reliable batsmen. I used KPs name because the fact is that I believe we need to try a 5 man bowling attack and KP,Strauss (who is captain and can't be dropped) and Bell are the 3 worst performers in tests from the UAE and SL tour so far. I'd keep Patel in because he can add a few overs , he took a couple of wickets in the 1st inns and I feel 1 test is not fair on him. No I did not say drop KP before Bell but you'd have to mention his poor form if you are being consistent and I'm accused by some of singling out Bell. People compare us keeping faith with Cook and Cook coming good. The difference is that when Cook was in a bad way , Eng were still winning and it could be overlooked. Unfortunately for Bell they are not now.

  • Roo on March 30, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @JG2704... Think we have both been proven right in the recent Test selection processes... England need 3 seamers bowling & 2 spinners to win the next Test... Surely Broad, Bresnan & Swann can be considered bowlers/batsmen & continually provided runs like when the top order failed in the 1st innings... Agree on SP - needs at least 2 series to get on idea on his Test form, with 1 at home... With Oz in our series win in SL - Harris, Watson, Siddle, Copeland, Johnson all got wkts... Seems England selectors (capt/coach) are overly cautious & slightly negative since the start of the UAE tour... My thoughts on Broad proved correct - playing a bowler at 90% isn't good enough for Test matches & may have cost this match...

  • Roo on March 30, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    @Meety... Its very obvious what JG2704 wrote:- "If they dropped KP (I wouldn't personally drop him over Bell still)"... Surely even a couch potato would understand that...

  • Andrew on March 29, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    After 13 off 30 odd balls, will the headline read "Bell displeased to rediscover batting slump"? There is always next test. == == == @JG2704 - Not sure if I read you right - did you say you'd drop KP BEFORE Bell?? (I re-read & am not sure). Hope I misread, because KP is the BEST batsmen in the English line up, form has tailed off over recent times, but when it comes back, he is genuine class. I suspect that Trott will have a lean time in the not too distant future as his Test ave is about 12 above his FC, Cook has been great for two years, I don't rate Bell, Strauss is another Brearly minus the tactical nous (good leader of men), & there is no 6th batsmen (due respect to Patel). I also think that it is unwise to rely on Prior as a #6, he is better value @#7. No KP, & IMO opinion the batting looks average. == == == I'm backing KP to score a ton in the 2nd Test. Unfortunately for England I think Sanga & Samaweera will too! Suspect the next pitch will be a road, (hope I'm wrong!)

  • Benjamin on March 29, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    Im sorry but I really can't handle Bell. I'm an Aussie and I just remember him being absolutely destroyed by Warne, McGrath & Co back in the day. He was so scared he looked ill. He did nail the aussies last summer but most of the keyboard warriors here could have scored against the aussies that summer.

    To me he scores when everyone else has made runs a bit like Michael Clarke did up until he became skipper. He's since peeled off 5 ripping centuries 4 keeping his team alive in the game when they were needed and 3 resulted in wins. I'm not a clarke fan but his 100 in SA last year is in the top 5 tons I've ever seen.

    I've seen 1 real good knock from Bell and that was the last tour in SA I think he hit 160 odd against a very fiery Styne and Morkel - outside of that I think he's one of the most over rated players in the modern game. I'm sorry that is how I see it.

    Make runs when they count and no one will question his integrity.

  • R on March 28, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @mikey76... just wondering what a ''revelation' IR Bell had been in Oz...? He holed out failing to shepherd the tail in Brisi, he holed out at the MCG for 1 tho finally scored a ton (let off in 80's) in the final test when the opposition were out cold and almost everyone else had scored a ton. That isn't a revelation in my book despite the great match positions he was coming in to bat. . A revelation in Oz were match winning or match saving innings from Strauss, Cook, Trott and KP... And great bowling from all the bowlers. Bell as usual was awol in the trenches. Certainly not a man for a crisis. I hope he has a good 2nd innings here, someone will need to score a big ton, perhaps it may be IR Bell, but the stats are piled against him. Sri Lanka are not Bangladesh (ave 158).

  • R on March 28, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    @mikey76.. re IR Bells average... He averages just over 30 v australia (prior to last ashes it was in the 20's!), and he averages 158 v Bangladesh. Those stats are ''getting real'' and show how skewed and unreal his average is. He has never scored a solus ton or played a matchwinning innings, he scored as many runs as Anderson and Swann put together yesterday, nothing to write home about I would suggest. When everyone else fails so does he because that's the kind of guy he 'really' is.

  • John on March 28, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    @mikey76 PS - It really is nothing personal against Bell at all - even if the purring does annoy me at times. England's batsmen have failed to deliver in the test arena this year. We've lost 3 in a row and it look's likely that will be 4 in a row after this - along with our number 1 ranking despite the rain and Smith's over cautious declarations meaning that it was still very much in our own hands going into this series. If they dropped KP (I wouldn't personally drop him over Bell still) for a bowler it would still imo be better than it is right now. I mean you say to me "Get Real" - 3 test defeats in a row seems pretty Real to me. Losing our number1 test ranking seems pretty real to me. Is it really that important to try and get one guy into form at the expense of the team's performances. I'm suggesting they should drop him (and recall him a test later if necessary) because I feel it's our best chance of winning. I'm not asking someone to shoot him

  • John on March 28, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @mikey76 Ctd Up until his huge 52 yesterday (check Village Blacksmith's comms) Bell had scored a top test score of 29 in his last 7 test inns and a top score of 39 in the 1st warm up game in UAE (I reckon about 14/15 inns or so in total. Had Eng been winning I'd be happy to ignore Bell (or any batsman's stats) but fact is I strongly feel we need to change things and add an extra bowler for a batsman , mainly because I think an extra bowler would help us reduce the oppositions score by more runs than an extra bat wd increase our score. It just so happens that Bell (along with Morgan who's already out) has been the worst of the UAE/SL tour so far. If Trott,Cook or KP had the worst form it would be them I'd be asking to be dropped. You could say SP , but 1 inns is not enough time to judge a player and he did take a couple of wkts. As put before if the bm were setting 300+ scores and our bowlers were unable to defend those scores do you think they'd keep their places?

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