Ian Bell will not bat like a prince before inexplicably spooning one to cover against South Africa

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Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

They’ve only gone and dropped him. Dropped him as if he were a cricket ball and they were him standing in the slips at some point in the last 12 months.

There’s a hideous video on the ECB Twitter feed where selector James Whitaker mouths the usual platitudes about Bell taking a break and reassessing before coming back strongly.

But he isn’t going to come back, is he? If he comes back at all, it’ll be in tears and bearing petrol shortly before torching the ECB offices. It would take more than ‘hunger and desire’ to persuade selectors to recall a malfunctioning 33-year-old who publicly floated the idea of retirement earlier in the year. We only hope that they didn’t talk him out of calling it a day back then only to make the decision for him a few months later. That would be cruel.

Then again, it would also be apt. Raising hopes, giving every impression that things are going to be just wonderful before a sudden and unheralded demise – the archetypal Bell innings.


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    1. I was really pleased that Compton is getting another chance (at 32!! so I wouldn’t get all the “Bell Finito” puns out just yet) … hope he scores a few.

  1. What an odd squad.

    – Plunkett dropped having not had the chance to do anything wrong. Despite injuries to the two men ahead of him in Finn and Wood, three more men come in ahead of him in Jordan, Footitt and Woakes.

    – Samit Patel? Ahead of Adil Rashid?

    – Compton actually makes sense, but I didn’t think the selectors would actually do it. It’s also a selection that says… “yeah, that Hales chap, still not convinced.”

    – Bell dropped. Probably the right decision, but with peculiar timing given his was one of our more consistent batsmen in the last series.

    1. Adil Rashid seems to be part of England cricket’s “white ball does matter” stance, so they’re packing him off to play shorter formats while Sam keeps an end tighter than his waistband (if he plays which he probably won’t).

      Dropping Plunkers, when the only other real pace option has injured himself and South Africa have two, is bloody stupid.

      1. Agreed re Plunkett – they just don’t seem to trust him despite some good showings with bat and ball in recent years and yes the lack of ‘genuine pace’ in conditions which you’d expect might reward such a thing, given the lack of Wood and Finn fitness, is concerning.

      2. Maybe they think Footitt’s going to provide the pace? Despite Cricinfo having him down as lfm.

        Stumped here. Which is ironic, given that the series is probably going to have limited spin.

      3. Everyone seems baffled about Plunkett. Our theory is fairly prosaic. Trevor Bayliss didn’t know the England players all that well when he arrived. He’s been watching them in the nets for a few months now. He’s got to know them better.

    2. “Adil Rashid showed plenty of promise in the UAE but the conditions in South Africa make the likelihood of playing two spinners extremely remote.” (Whitaker)

      So why, pray, take big Samit? It he seen as a genuine #6 contender, or a heavy-hitting batsman who’ll come in lower down the order but also bowl a few overs of dross to give the seamers a break? (Isn’t Mo already doing this roll, assuming he drops back down to 7 or 8)?

      1. Not dragging Rashid round to watch other people play cricket is a good thing surely? Spin isnt going to play much of a role in this series, England are only really going to pick Moeen. If they drop him or he gets injured, they will want a batsman that can bowl a dozen overs of cheapish spin to replace him. Would actually have done the same with Buttler – let him go and actually play somewhere and have Read or someone as the backup keeper who will just enjoy the free holiday to South Africa.

        Bell is probably fair enough – you can’t just keep picking him because it is a big series and you don’t want someone else to have to play in it. In series since the Belly Ashes, he has averaged 26, 34, 42, 31, 10, 26 and 31. If England lose, I doubt they will be able to point to missing those runs.

        Plunkett is baffling though. Not sure how you can have 2 people ahead of you get injured and somehow fall DOWN the list. Not sure Jordan is up to it and Woakes feels more like a Stokes alternative than a genuine 3rd seamer, so would have to throw my vote behind Footitt for the First Test.

  2. Where has the editorial stance of indifference to Ian Bell gone? I’ve read the piece and the comments, but not seen the word mentioned once (until now).

    Has the word indifference been dropped?

  3. I’m definitely feeling some emotions about the demise of poor old Ian Ronald. He should be remembered as one of England’s greatest batsmen. But he won’t be.

    I still love him.

    1. 22 test centuries. That’s the important number there. Joint 3rd behind KP and Cook and level with Boycott, Hammond and Cowdrey.

      He’s also the only England player with any serious captaincy experience in county cricket and there will days in the near future when Cook et al will miss his experience.

      Even if we don’t see him again in England whites, the county game will be infinitely enriched for his return.

      1. Plus Stuart Broad’s said he (Bell) is world class… how good are we now that we can afford to leave world class players at home?

  4. Would love Compton to tell the selectors to shove it up their collective arse.

    Wonder how many players over the years have declined to play for England after being selected but not publicly announced? They would keep it pretty quiet.

  5. Ian Bell’s lip curls when he is unsure. The curl is almost permanent now which makes him tiring to watch. I like the moment when a batsman either leaves one perfectly or times and places an effortless shot and I can relax and enjoy watching.
    I guess Compton is back not least because of his knowledge of South African conditions. Plunked should also be in the squad.

    1. Is the photo accompanying this piece an example of what you mean by “lip curl”, Jill?

      In my book, that is more a lower lip protrusion than a lip curl, but perhaps you are describing something quite other than the lip gesture illustrated.

      Please explain with more specifics, if you are able, Jill. Links to pictures that illustrate the precise curl that irks you would be most helpful.

      I just feel we need to get to the bottom of this lip point (or indeed the top lip, if it is a top lip curl) before whatshisname is completely forgotten.

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