Australia A v England XI, Hobart, 2nd day November 18, 2010

Bell dominates Australia A with unbeaten century


England XI 5 for 335 (Bell 121*, Collingwood 74*) lead Australia A 230 by 105 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Ian Bell sounded an ominous Ashes warning for Australia with a dominant century on a rain-affected second day in Hobart. Paul Collingwood and Alastair Cook also looked in promising touch and posted half-centuries against an Australia A attack that included the Test squad member Steven Smith, who took the brunt of Bell's aggression and finished with 0 for 57 from ten overs.

The only slight concerns for England ahead of next Thursday's first Test surround the form of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, who are averaging in the low 30s so far on the trip. But Bell quickly focused attention on the positives in the England camp, having come to the crease at a wobbly 5 for 137.

While Ricky Ponting got himself out hooking for 27 in Sydney, where Shane Watson and Simon Katich also struggled on a difficult pitch, Bell was thriving in the cool and damp England-like conditions at Bellerive Oval. He combined with Collingwood (74 not out) for an unbeaten 198-run partnership and finished the day on 121 from 158 balls.

Bell made a conscious decision to attack Smith, an aggressive bowler who likes to give the ball plenty of air, and he advanced to drive Smith over his head for four from his second delivery. That began a string of three consecutive boundaries in Smith's first over, as Bell danced down the pitch and treated the bowler with disdain.

In all, Bell managed eight fours and a six off Smith, including the cover-driven boundary that brought up his hundred off 113 deliveries and made him the third centurion of England's tour. He was also comfortable against the fast men, and a magnificent square-driven boundary off Clint McKay was another highlight.

At the other end, Collingwood did what he does best - compiled unobtrusively. However, he also took his opportunities when the bowlers erred, and he pulled a six onto the hill under the scoreboard when Smith dragged down an attempted flipper, and it took him only 78 deliveries to reach his half-century.

Collingwood and Bell wrested all the momentum from Australia A, after three quick wickets shortly before tea caused a few worries in the England dressing room. For much of the second session England cruised thanks to an 87-run partnership from Cook and Trott, until the departure of Cook, who on 60 unsuccessfully tried to clear mid-on off the left-arm spin of Steve O'Keefe, sparked a mini-collapse from the middle order.

Trott is the only England specialist batsman who has not posted a half-century in any of their warm-up matches, although he looked composed for most of his 41. But he was undone by a bouncer, when he miscued an attempted pull off Mark Cameron and was caught at mid-off, leaving him with a tour average of 30.

Pietersen did manage to pass fifty against Western Australia in the tour opener, but his average of 32.75 is also well below expectations after he inexplicably failed to deal with a straight ball from O'Keefe. Pietersen had been warming up on the boundary while Cook and Trott were still together, keen for some time in the middle, but his innings ended on 5 when he played inside a delivery that straightened just enough.

O'Keefe is not in the Test squad, but it was the sort of dismissal that can't hurt the Test aspirations of his fellow left-armer Xavier Doherty, who is a similar style of bowler. The only breakthrough in the morning session came when the nightwatchman Monty Panesar (13) top-edged a hook off Clint McKay and was taken at fine leg by Cameron.

Only 7.2 overs were bowled before lunch, as the intermittent rain in Hobart proved a nuisance for both teams. Bell ended up a much bigger nuisance for Australia A.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 18, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    for everyone doubting australians bowling depth on the basis of the bowlers in this game remember that all these guys are outside the top 5 quicks in the country (johnson, hilfenhaus, bollinger, siddle and harris) and in my opinion behing guys like ben cutting and luke feldman

  • Hamir on November 18, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    Come on seagrip, you aren't seriously suggesting Andrew McDonald is a better bowler than Hilfenhaus? McDonald is a 2nd or 3rd change bowler. Shane Watson's first class average will the ball is pretty handy too, better than McDonald and Hilfenhaus - next you'll be telling me he's a front line strike bowler too!! LOL

    First class records do not tell the full story. Otherwise Ramprakash and Hick would have been the best English batsmen of their generation, and Trescothick, Vaughan, Collingwood would barely have got a game. Anyone can do a stats search on cricinfo, selectors are there to look past them and make judgements on the potential for quality at the highest level and mental ability.

  • Richard on November 18, 2010, 22:46 GMT

    @phoenixsteve-England's performances in the lead up matches have been excellent overall. When the tourists first landed I would have said Aus were mild favourites to win. Now I'm not so sure. I've not yet made any particularly bold predictions about the outcome of this series and I'm not about to start now, but Eng has the lead in the morale stakes and may be the first side from there in recent times that while giving the obligatory "Yes I think we can win" stuff to the media, actually believes it, and I wouldn't underestimate that as a factor. I don't think there's a lot of difference between the sides on paper so victory will likely go to the mentally stronger team. Colly has a big role to play here-he's the most under-rated player in the side and if the rest of the team can harness his "They'll never take me alive" attitude they will be hard to beat. Yet 'there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip', and the chemistry of a test series is a fickle mistress. We ain't dead just yet

  • peter on November 18, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    Interesting comparison of a few of australia's likely bowlers (Hilf and Siddle) in first class cricket: Siddle vs Clint McKay, Batting: Clint McKay wins - 4 runs per innings better over career, Bowling: Clint McKay wins - 2.35 runs per wicket better over career. Hilfenahus vs Andrew McDonald, Batting: Andrew McDonald wins - 28 per innings better over career, Bowling: Andrew McDonald wins - 0.05 runs per wicket better over career. You could perform equally alarming comparisons against the likes of Callum Ferguson in the squad ahead of Phil Hughes/Jacques. And Marcus North too!! Get the selectors OUT!

  • Steve on November 18, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    I have just read through reader comments and everyone seems to be recognising Bells performance ..... and of course Collys. It's a good thing and I note that even Biggus has wound his neck in! The Ashes banter is part of cricket but one thing is for sure..... Australia may be down at the moment - but DO NOT take them for granted! Like an injured animal they could still BITE and nothing would give the Aussie nation more satisfaction! As the proverb says....." ÿou do not poke a sleeping bear" . Hope they stay sleeping 'til February though..... COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Crazy on November 18, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    this is exactly what hpnd in india too..aus bowling attack hasn't been able to create chances for wickets..eng were some 140/5..and no wicket after that??...some serious work required by aus bowling dept..

  • Charles on November 18, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    This will be Ian Bell's "time" and I'd be shocked if he's not one of the top run scorers in the series this time. Many forget that he was in the wilderness not that long ago and he is a completely different player this time around. Once he's in he has that much time and talent that only the very best bowling worries him - did anyone notice how he climbed into Smith each time he came on today? Getting KP out will not be the climax this time around. If Strauss and or Bell get in, neither of them will be happy with 50's or 60's anymore and I just don't see any of the other bowlers creating the type of sustained pressure that McGrath, Clark and Warne did last time around. In 10 days time we'll be 1-0 up with Aussie media calling for wholesale changes - I only regret changing my mind about being there to watch it at the Gabba, as it will be fun!

  • Steve on November 18, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    @Stouffer - I would push Bell up the order, but to 5 with Colly dropping to six because I think that Colly bats better with the lower middle order and tail. Of course, it won't happen, but I think it's the only change I would make.

  • John on November 18, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    OK, forget the England-Australia banter (which I thoroughlyl enjoy!). I don't know whether this match is all that significant, since it's not being played in the same conditions or against the same opposition as the tests. I just enjoyed watching Ian Bell bat. That was a truly exhilarating hundred, beautiful strokes all round the wicket. The Australian bowling was pretty good, especially Steve O'Keefe who looks like an excellent all-round cricketer to me. Steve Smith bowled better than his figures show and the fast men all gave great effort (they're Aussies, right?). The fielding was also first-class. It was just Bell's day and anyone who didn't enjoy watching him shouldn't call themselves a cricket fan. BTW, I completely disagree that Bell should come in earlier. At #6 he's able to turn the game around, as he did yesterday. Sobers, the best bat I ever saw, usually batted #6 for West Indies. If it was good enough for him, it's fine for Bell.

  • Alasdair on November 18, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    Australia are the victims of their own success...most of the England top order cut their teeth (painfully!) in test cricket against the likes of Warne & McGrath. Is it any surprise that Bell is able to get after Steve Smith given the last leggie he faced on Australian soil?

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