Bell out to secure his spot
Ian Bell is aiming to establish himself in England’s limited-overs teams after his unbeaten century guided the tourists to a seven-wicket win over the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra.
Bell has arguably been in the form of his career during England’s tour to Australia and hit his third century since arriving Down Under at the Manuka Oval with an imperious unbeaten 124 from 102 balls.
It served as a convincing audition for a regular role in a side which has a queue of candidates attempting to force their way in ahead of the two Twenty20 and seven one-day internationals against Australia.
Despite his form, Bell is not a regular in the shorter formats of the game, having not played a T20 in almost three years, while he has been in and out of the ODI team during the past 12 months.
However, places are hard to come by with Bell only getting his chance today at the top of the order in place of rested skipper Andrew Strauss.
With Kevin Pietersen also gunning to win back the spot he lost during the summer series against Pakistan, competition is fierce ahead of next month’s World Cup and Bell knows he must take every chance that comes along.
“I’m not established in this one-day team yet and I want to nail that down and be a part of this England squad for a while,” he said.
“I feel in good form, but that doesn’t last forever. I can’t sit back, there’s a lot of work to do because I want to be a part of this team in Test cricket and one-day cricket for a long time.
“In all forms of the game we have good competition. I think this series (against Australia) is going to be like the Ashes, we aren’t going to need 11 people, we will need a squad.
“That’s showing now in our performances, and we’ve had some guys who have had a good run out today.”
Asked if he thought his century had done enough to end his long absence from the T20 team ahead of Wednesday’s match in Adelaide, he added: “I’ll have to wait and see. I didn’t do myself any harm.
“I feel massively a part of this squad and I feel like I’m in good nick.”
Should Bell earn a recall it would, at the very least, be reward for his diligence after he spent the summer refining his game to meet the demands of one-day cricket.
A broken foot suffered in the ODI series against Bangladesh in July slowed his progress before a century for Warwickshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final earned a recall to the national team during the Pakistan series.
“I had to go away and work hard on my one-day cricket,” Bell added. “I had to change how I was going to play, to try and play more powerfully and I did that with Warwickshire.
“Hopefully I can take that into the England side. It was a good time away from one-day international cricket but hopefully I can bring what I’ve tried to get into my game into the next level now.”
Bell’s hopes of returning to the Twenty20 team received the backing of skipper Paul Collingwood, who admitted his name would be discussed before the match in Adelaide.
“He’s in fantastic form, he has been since he arrived in Australia,” Collingwood said.
“That was a very clinical innings and he has staked his claim for a place in the Twenty20 side. We’ll have to gauge things tomorrow and come up with a plan.”
England’s success today ensured they maintained the winning form they had repeatedly said they wanted to continue heading into the limited-overs series against Australia.
Michael Yardy led a slightly rusty bowling display with 3-33 as the youthful hosts, who were watched by Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, posted a competitive target of 258 in a rain-reduced 43 overs.
Yardy was one of four new faces in the squad alongside Chris Woakes, James Tredwell and Luke Wright, while Ajmal Shahzad was given a run out after he did not make an appearance during the Ashes.
Shahzad struggled early on before returning with a more probing second spell to finish with three wickets of his own, albeit at a cost of 61 runs.
Bell’s hundred, as well as 48 from Jonathan Trott, then ensured a wholly satisfying day for the tourists.
“The best thing we had in the Test series was that we wanted to win all the warm-up games and that was the same message for this game,” Bell added.
“We didn’t want to just come here and use it as practice, we wanted to come out and win. That was important for us and it’s helped us on this tour.
“It was nice to put on a good performance today.”