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England wait on Bell

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England head into the first encounter of the NatWest Series against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl with doubts over the fitness of Ian Bell.

Bell, inked in to open the batting, was hit in the nets this morning when an attempted pull shot went awry, resulting in a deep gash to his chin and a dash to hospital for stitches and to check whether his jaw might be broken.

It later emerged Bell has a possible nondisplaced fracture of mandibular condyle and was fitted with 10 stitches - though he has not been ruled out of the encounter.

That decision is set to be made prior to play tomorrow, with captain Alastair Cook among those hoping he pulls through.

“It is a concern, because he didn't look in a good way when he walked off,” said Cook. “There was quite a lot of blood, and he has had stitches.”

Ian Bell & Alastair Cook

It remains to be seen whether Ian Bell, left, and Alastair Cook, right, will be able to open the batting against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl

England were forced to consider their contingency plans, with the elevation for Cook’s Essex team-mate Ravi Bopara a possible option.

“We will have to play it by ear,” said Cook. “If he is unfit then, of course, we would have to change - and that’s why you’ve got a squad.

“Emergencies can come up in any game. I remember Matt Prior getting hurt on the morning of the Test at Headingley in 2009. You have to have a squad for those circumstances.

“We're just waiting to see what we'll do if Belly is ruled out.”

Cook's opposite number Darren Sammy had mixed feelings about Bell's friendly-fire injury.

“I don't think any cricketer wants to see anybody get injured, or would take pleasure in that happening to an opposition player,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate for him. But we have not got to focus on what happens to the opposition; we just have to focus on what we need to do to win the one-day series, go out there and put good runs on the board and then defend it.”

In Bell, who made his only one-day international hundred at this ground in 108 matches to date, Cook is confident the right man will be in situ against the new ball - in the medium if not yet for sure the immediate term.

“I think the best players can adapt to all conditions, and we’ve all seen how good Belly is in Test cricket,” he said.

“In one-day cricket, he'll be the first to admit he hasn't quite reached the heights he would have liked.

“But I don't see any reason why he can't thrive in one-day cricket now.”

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