Unfinished business for Bell

Bangladesh v England Promo

Mark Boucher & Ian Bell

Ian Bell reached a career high-water mark in his heroic 78 in Cape Town, but feels even that does not guarantee his place

Ian Bell may have played a leading role in England’s winter tour to South Africa but still believes he has to prove himself worthy of a place in the Test XI.

Bell spent a period out of the Test side before coming back during the Ashes and went on to impress on one of the most difficult tours on the cricketing calendar.

He compiled 140 in a match-winning cause against South Africa in Durban before batting for nearly six hours for 78 to help secure a draw in the third Test at Newlands.

But having lost his place in the side before, he is refusing to take his spot for granted.

“I’m still working my way back and trying to cement myself in the team,” said Bell ahead of Friday’s first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong.

“I don’t feel by any means like I have a guaranteed place so I’ll be working very hard to get one.

“There is a lot of competition for places and it also depends on the type of side we go in with, whether it’s five or six batters.

“There is real competition for those places so I’ll be working as hard as I can to make sure I do well again.

“This is a big series for me and I’m as hungry as ever to score runs.”

Depending on who fills in for Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, Bell could once again be asked to bat at three.

He has sometimes struggled in that role and often appears more comfortable at six, where he was stationed against South Africa.

But he is ready for any eventuality and believes the tactics adopted by Bangladesh means position may not matter as much as usual.

“In terms of the format Bangladesh will use there will be plenty of spinners in the side and spin will be coming in very quickly,” he predicted.

Kevin Pietersen & Stuart Broad

Bell "had the dressing room behind me" during his lean trot, and hopes Kevin Pietersen can also derive similar encouragement

“I don’t think we’ll be getting seamers with the new ball for very long so I don’t think it’s going to matter much.

“Wherever I am asked to bat I’ll be prepared to do it, I don’t try and do anything different.

“But I’ve always said I am desperate to work my way back up the order.

“I haven’t taken the opportunities (at three) so if I’m at six I’ll keep trying to churn the runs out and keep working at moving back up the order. Three is a goal, definitely.”

Bell, meanwhile, backed Kevin Pietersen to emerge from a recent slump that has yielded only 69 runs in seven innings on tour, citing the team spirit in the England camp as a source of strength for struggling players.

“I know what it’s like, it’s a difficult place to be (when you are out of form) but when you have the dressing room behind you there’s a much easier way through than when you’re on your own,” he said.

“It’s difficult to say what KP is thinking exactly but I know the dressing room were very important for me. Out in South Africa, Andrew Strauss was absolutely fantastic for me - the way he spoke to me, the way he backed me.

“The dressing room is exactly the same for Kevin now and I know he is working as hard as he can.

“We’re right behind him all the way.”

Brit

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