We want Ian Bell back at number six in the batting order. He’s shown promise and he hasn’t disgraced himself at three, but he’s so good at six and that’s an important spot too. England forget this sometimes.
An England batting line-up with Bell at six looks a lot more substantial than one with a debutant in that position – as was the case in Sri Lanka. With a newish wicketkeeper and an old-school tail, things got really slippery at the fall of the fourth wicket.
Bell will doubtless say that his future’s at three and he wants to start influencing games, to which we answer ‘what’s the rush?’
Bell’s only 25. He’s got years ahead of him. He could spend two more years down the order and still have the majority of his career at three. Michael Clarke’s a similar age and has played 30 Tests to Bell’s 33, but there’s no question of his moving above five until there’s an opening.
Teams usually have their best batsman at three. You want someone rocklike and dependable. Let Ian Bell add to his experience and record down the order. He can move up when he’s an old gnarl-dog who’s seen and done more than he has now.
We don’t care about this anywhere near as much as it seems, by the way. If Ian Bell’s still at three in the first Test against New Zealand, we’ll be perfectly happy. We only started writing this because we thought Ravi Bopara’s presence at six meant England were inexperienced and fragile after the fall of the fourth wicket, but Bopara was dropped before we published. We hate to let ill-conceived, poorly thought-out writing go to waste though.
Names we’ve forgotten to include in this post: Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah, Mark Ramprakash.