Bell brightens miserable day

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England batsman Ian Bell emerged from a lean spell by striking his first century in almost nine months to nudge Warwickshire into a 32-run lead on a rain-shortened second day against Durham at Edgbaston.

Only 22 overs were possible between a delayed start and an early finish, yet that was enough time for Bell to move confidently from his overnight 59 to an unbeaten 106.

It was the 39th first-class century of Bell’s career and his 19th for Warwickshire, but his first in 20 innings since he made a Test-best 235 against India at the Kia Oval last August.

Ian Bell

Ian Bell moved on to a first century of the year on a rain-affected second day at Edgbaston, where Warwickshire remain in command against Durham

Bell scored only 134 runs in nine Test innings against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in two series last winter.

However, having produced just 34 runs in three innings so far this summer, he was back to his vintage best today in the LV= County Championship Division One clash.

The 30-year-old had one early alarm; he survived a confident leg-before appeal from Mitchell Claydon having added two to his overnight total.

After that, Bell played with authority and confidence - though Durham were guilty of bowling a little too short on a seamer’s pitch.

The England batsman hooked Graham Onions, the pick of the attack on the first day, for four and then cover drove his international team-mate for another boundary.

Durham captain Phil Mustard turned to slow left-armer Ian Blackwell in an attempt to make the breakthrough, but Bell went down the pitch and straight drove him for six.

Former England wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose cut confidently and helped Bell add 87 in 25 overs before falling to a fluky dismissal.

He cut Blackwell but the ball ricocheted off the left thigh of Ben Stokes, who had just been positioned at silly point, to Michael Di Venuto at slip.

Bell was on 98 at the time and Warwickshire also lost in-form Rikki Clarke, lbw on the back foot to Blackwell, before he completed his century.

The number three played out a maiden from Callum Thorp and then reached three figures - from 198 balls - by cutting Blackwell for his 13th four.

Soon after, the players departed for an early tea with Warwickshire on 195 for seven, and play was abandoned for the day at 5pm despite attempts by the groundstaff to mop up.

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