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Young Lions benefit from Bell masterclass

Former England A and U19 captain Ian Bell oversaw a session at the Performance Centre in Loughborough to help England's future players increase their expertise against the spinning ball.

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Young Lions benefit from Bell masterclass

Ian Bell imparted his expertise to the Young Lions

As England’s men’s Test side spun their way to a record-breaking series victory in Sri Lanka, the Young Lions were being given a spin masterclass of their own by England great Ian Bell.

Bell, a former England A and U19 captain who made 7,727 runs across his Test career, was at the Performance Centre in Loughborough to put back into the Pathway and help England’s future players become as proficient as possible against the spinning ball.

A record 38 out of the 40 wickets to fall at Pallekelle came through spin and it was notable that many of England’s standout players – Joe Root, Ben Foakes, Jack Leach – had themselves benefited from Lions and Young Lions tours in the past.

“Access to the likes of Ian Bell is exactly the sort of experience that adds value on top of players’ county programmes. It's no coincidence we have had positive examples of players performing well for England relatively quickly and at a young age having had some rich Pathway experiences.”

Young Lions head coach Jon Lewis

For Young Lions head coach Jon Lewis the need to draw on as much experience and expertise as possible in developing his players is paramount: “There is so much a young player can learn from these experiences,” he said.

“Access to the likes of Ian Bell is exactly the sort of experience that adds value on top of the players’ county programmes. I think it’s no coincidence that we have had some positive examples of players performing well for England relatively quickly and at a young age having had some rich Pathway experiences.

“Belly is an amazing role model for our Young Lions players,” Lewis continued.

The Ashes winner oversaw a tailored session for the Pathway players

The Ashes winner oversaw a tailored session for the Pathway players

“He spoke with such clarity about the fundamentals of playing and scoring runs against the turning ball in conditions that are alien to young English players.

“He was terrific with our guys, giving more time back than we asked him to, and his passion for batting and willingness to stay around and engage with the players can only be of huge benefit to these lads moving forward.

“We see continually in international cricket that it is getting harder and harder to win away from home and the value that these opportunities give to players at the start of their journey is priceless.

“We are trying to identify and develop future high-achieving international players and with our training camp in India looming, plus what I believe will be an extremely challenging tour in playing Bangladesh across all three formats in January, the preparation time and expert advice that the players have received over the weekend can only stand us in good stead for the great amount of learning that lies ahead.”

Specialist coaches 

Bell wasn’t alone in passing on his expertise to the Young Lions.

Alongside him were specialist coaches Michael Yardy, (Sussex CCC), Min Patel (Kent CCC) and Steve Snell (Somerset CCC), who will continue the expert advice and coaching on a daily basis while on tour.

Lewis put on record again how grateful he was to the counties for releasing their coaches to the Pathway.

Min Patel was among the other specialist coaches present

Min Patel was among the other specialist coaches present

Young Lions player Tom Lammonby was thrilled what he took away: “It was so exciting to get to meet a player we grew up watching win Ashes series for England.”

“There were so many great learnings from our time with Belly, in particular he talked about trusting your defence early in your innings, how hard you have to work in the first 20 balls of your innings and that you should expect the ball to spin past the bat.

“He also talked about how crucial it is to set yourself for an attritional battle in the sub-continent and how imperative it is to read the conditions quickly and make adjustments in shot selection against the differing styles of spin bowlers.

“We also talked at length about how to manipulate the field to your advantage in white-ball cricket – it was great to see him show us how, talk us through it in person and then be able to go away and have a go myself. It really was a valuable experience for me personally.”

The masterclass was a continuation of the Pathway’s focus on tailoring sessions specifically to the conditions that will face England sides out on tour.

Before the England Women and England Lions teams headed out to the West Indies and UAE respectively, they benefited from a specialised warm-weather tent that was designed to replicate the pitch and overhead conditions found overseas.

That same tent also played host to some of the men’s Test team who’ve since gone on to make history in Sri Lanka.

WATCH: Ian Bell carries his bat in glorious century knock for Warwickshire

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Privacy officer

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