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News

Ian Bell to retire at end of 2020 season

The Warwickshire batsman last played international cricket in 2015

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
05-Sep-2020
Ian Bell unfurls a cover drive, England v New Zealand, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day, May 23, 2015

Vintage Bell as he unfurls a cover drive against New Zealand  •  Getty Images

Ian Bell, the former England middle-order batsman, will retire from professional cricket at the end of this season.
Bell, 38, last played for England in 2015, but has been a regular for Warwickshire since then. He missed the whole of the 2019 season with injury, and has struggled for runs this year with a top score of 28 in all formats.
"It's true when they say you know when the time's right, and unfortunately, my time is now," Bell said. "While my hunger and enthusiasm for the sport that I love remain as strong as ever, my body simply can't keep up with the demands of the game to the standard of which I expect of myself."
Bell's retirement comes as something of a surprise, with his announcement only two months after he had signed a new deal for 2021. But in a statement, he said that he "couldn't disrespect the club I love by being unable to play to the level they deserve".
"It's been an absolute privilege and honour to fulfil my boyhood dream of playing for both England and Warwickshire," Bell said. "As a child, to play just once for either would have been enough for me, but to do so for the past 22 years is more than I could have ever wished for.
"To have spent my entire career and won trophies with my boyhood club is something both myself and my family are enormously proud of. To everyone associated with the club; the staff, players, fans and anyone I've worked with during this time: thank you."
Bell will play Warwickshire's final Bob Willis Trophy fixture on Sunday, away at Glamorgan, before playing his final T20 game next week. He will be one of three Warwickshire stalwarts retiring this season, along with Tim Ambrose and Jeetan Patel, and the club's sport director Paul Farbrace said they would need to "rebuild" as a result.
"Ian will retire from the game as a true Bears legend," Farbrace said. "He's come through our development system and academy, won every trophy possible, and he has broken club batting records.
"During his 12-year international career, he was also a fantastic ambassador for Warwickshire CCC who scored runs all over the world and was firmly established as one of the world's best batsmen.
"Knowing when to retire is an incredibly difficult decision for every professional sportsman and woman and Ian deserves a huge amount of credit for making this call whilst he still had another year remaining on his contract.
"We will use this opportunity to rebuild by further developing our young, homegrown players whilst also attracting talented players with a hunger and determination to win."
Bell retires as a modern England great. He is one of only three men to have won the Ashes five times, and was an integral part of their middle order during their rise to No. 1 in the ICC's Test rankings in 2011 under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. He made 7727 Test runs at 42.69, including 22 hundreds, and is third on England's all-time ODI run-scorers list behind Eoin Morgan and Joe Root.
Perhaps his finest hour came in 2013, when his 562 runs in the Ashes - including hundreds at Trent Bridge, Lord's and Chester-le-Street - helped England to a 3-0 series win. Other highlights included scores of 159 and 235 from No. 3 in England's 4-0 series win against India in 2011 and vital runs on the tour of South Africa in 2009-10, which helped to alter perceptions that he fell short when the going got tough.
He could easily have steered England to their first 50-over world trophy, too, opening the batting in the 2013 Champions Trophy where he started the tournament with a player-of-the-match effort of 91 against Australia. At the time when he became a casualty of the dismal 2015 World Cup campaign, he was England's leading ODI run-scorer.
He was dropped from the Test side surprisingly early, after struggling for both fluency and runs in England's 2-0 defeat to Pakistan in the UAE in 2015-16. There were murmurs of a possible recall as he piled on the runs in 2018, but it never materialised.
In county cricket, he was part of nine trophy-winning sides: County Championships in 2004 and 2012, the Division Two title in 2008 and 2018, the B&H Cup in 2002, Division Two of the Pro40 in 2009, the CB40 in 2010, the T20 Blast in 2014 and the Royal London Cup in 2016. He also played for Perth Scorchers when they won the 2016-17 Big Bash League.
Bell looks set for a career in coaching, after working as England's batting coach at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year. He said that the stint had "added fuel" to his "already sizeable coaching ambitions" and that he hoped to "continue to be heavily involved in the sport."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98