Ian Bell’s innings of 199 against South Africa was better than waking up on a Saturday thinking it’s a Monday and then realising the truth. It was better than hearing the phone ring and picking it up only to hear a dialling tone. It was even better than being asleep.
It had skill. It had determination. It had urgency when urgency was required. It had patience when patience was required. It had single-mindedness and it had beautiful, delicious remorselessness which we hadn’t even dreamed that Bell possessed.
So what could possibly be better than that? The obvious answer as to what could be better than an innings of 199 would be to say 200, but you’d be wrong. The correct, mathematically counter-intuitive answer would be an innings of 157.
For it isn’t just about the scoring or how the scoring’s done. It’s who’s doing the scoring. Rob Key hit 157 against Yorkshire this weekend.
He did everything that Ian Bell did, only he did it in Rob Key’s body, floating inches off the floor throughout and with the effortless indifference of a man who just doesn’t care, but who also cares quite a lot.