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Watson hails brilliant Bell

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Ian Bell

Ian Bell has looked in excellent touch during the NatWest Series against West Indies. "It's no surprise to me," said Australia's Shane Watson

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson is far from surprised by Ian Bell’s recent resurgence in the limited-overs arena.

Bell, promoted to open in the current NatWest Series against West Indies following Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from limited-overs internationals, followed up his sensational 126 at The Ageas Bowl with a classy 53 at the Kia Oval yesterday.

England will hope Bell can maintain his good form when Australia provide the opposition in five 50-over matches, starting at Lord’s on June 29.

Ahead of his team’s opening tour match against Leicestershire at Grace Road tomorrow, Watson highlighted the qualities of an adversary he greatly respects

“Ian Bell is a world-class player. For me it had been a little surprising that he hadn’t taken on the one-day game as he has (now) because he’s a highly-skilled player and hits the ball in great areas,” he said.

“It’s no surprise to me that he’s performing the way he has in these past couple of games.”

Watson is wary of the threat posed by England after they wrapped up a sixth consecutive home ODI series win yesterday.

Bell’s partner at the top of the order, Alastair Cook, contributed 112 to the latest victory, meaning an England opener has scored a century in a winning cause in six successive matches.

“They are playing very good one-day cricket at the moment,” Watson said.

“I think their batting has been a big strength. For guys to continue to be able to get hundreds at the top of the order obviously sets a very good platform for the team.

“We’ll definitely have to play at our best to get the result we want. Hopefully we can play the cricket that we know we can.”

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