Flower sure Bell can perform
Team director Andy Flower has backed Ian Bell to be a success at the top of the England order in the NatWest Series against West Indies.
The 30-year-old Warwickshire batsman, a veteran of 108 one-day internationals, has been recalled to the limited-overs set-up after missing the 4-0 series victory over Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Bell was at his fluent best during the 2-0 Investec Test series victory over Darren Sammy’s side, scoring three impressive half-centuries.
With Kevin Pietersen announcing his retirement from limited-overs international cricket last month, Flower has confirmed Bell is likely to fill the vacant opening batsman role.
“It is safe to assume he will open," Flower said. "We don't want him to do a similar job to Pietersen; we want him to be Ian Bell and play great international cricket,”
“He's a very experienced cricketer, even though he's only 30. He's got a lot of international experience and he's in great form, very confident at the moment.
“You saw some of that form and skill yesterday (when Bell compiled 76 not out at Edgbaston). With the two new white balls we want great quality batsmen up front and he is one of those. We believe he can form a successful partnership with (Alastair) Cook.
"Of course there are alternatives and we've considered them very carefully. But we believe the man who has got the best chance of making it a success against two new white balls is Ian Bell. I'm really excited to see him take up that challenge.”
England Test captain Andrew Strauss is also convinced Bell has the qualities to prosper in an opening role.
When asked if Bell could succeed at the top of the order, Strauss replied: "Definitely. To me Ian Bell is one of the best players in the world and he can adapt to any form of the game in my opinion.
“This might just be the opportunity he needs to cement his place in the one-day side. I think we all know his quality and it's great for him to be back in that one-day set-up.
"He has shown plenty of times that he is capable of doing a very good job in one-day cricket. Maybe he just hasn't had that one breakthrough innings that really grabs the game by the scruff of the neck and wins it for England.
"I think once he does that the world is his oyster. He's such a fine player that he can be up there with the very best.
“It's a very exciting one-day team. If you look at the middle-order there's a lot of muscle there and I'm sure they'll do very well."
Flower admits the decision to recall Bell was influenced by the conditions England will face in the 2015 World Cup in Australia.
“In Australia there would be a very similar decision-making process to go through,” Flower said.
“On the sub-continent we would obviously consider whether we go with the same personnel up front. But there's a lot of time between now and our next sub-continental one-day cricket.
“The World Cup in Australia was definitely on our mind. We had to weigh up whether to get someone younger than him in. But we think he's the best option for us and he's only 30 years old.”