Saturday, 18 September 2010

Bell's Rise to Top Job

Ian Bell is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in a puzzle. Why is he a player who has such undoubted talent, yet at times can look like he doesn't know what end of the bat to hold? Why can he struggle against some of the poorest attacks in the world, yet can score big against some of the best? Ian Bell is certainly a tricky one. I don't know whether to support his being in the side, as he can make great runs in certain situations, or argue for his being dropped, as he can also throw his wicket away when England need him the most.

Part of the IRB debate is what position he should bat. He won't open, isn't solid enough to bat 3, isn't full of runs to bat 4, and isn't gritty enough to bat 5. Yet he seems like the world's best number 6, when he can come in at 350/4, and can score a really pretty hundred. And if England play 6 batsman (not including Prior at 7), then Bell is clearly a much better bet than Morgan to bat at number 6.

Ian Bell is like an insect who just won't die, and no matter how many times he's stamped on, he keeps wriggling back into life and jumping into the coleslaw. Just when all seemed lost in the West Indies 2009, he gets a lucky way back in and keeps his place in the side. And even when injured, he appears to be nailed on to start in Brisbane. He's gone through so many crises of confidence, so many dips in form and so many struggles against certain bowlers. Yet still retains his place.

Ian Bell is 28. He has played 57 test matches. Today he will captain Warwickshire in the CB40 final.

Part of the nature of being an English cricket fan is an ability to look far into the future, irregardless of much more important things in the immediate view. Andrew Strauss is 33. He won't play test cricket forever. And as such, he won't captain England forever. Which means the search for his successor has already begun.

When looking for a captain, Andy Flower will look for a player who has lots of test experience. Has an unassailable place in the side. A good captaincy record. And is young enough to take the job on for a few years.

Collingwood is out - too old. KP won't want another go. Alastair Cook isn't guarenteed of his place in the side in a month, let alone in a couple of years. And England won't really want to pick a bowler as captain. Which leaves former Under-19 captain and test veteran Ian Ronald Bell.

No disrespect to Ian Bell, but when I've watched his England career (which is probably 99% of it) he hasn't displayed an awful lot of tactical nous or obvious leadership qualities. He doesn't look like the sort of bloke who can inspire in the dressing room, or console when times are tough. His record of never scoring the first hundred in the innings (until recently) hardly speaks of a man leading from the front.

All in all, Ian probably won't be a very good captain for England. Which is why I want Somerset to win today's CB40 final, to stop IRB's inexorable rise to the top role in English cricket. So in order to stop Ian, I've dug some dirt, where some people call for him to be banned from cricket.

Sorry Ian. Even in this post I've gone from liking him, to disliking him, to feeling sorry for writing a post where I'm mean about him. I guess that's the inigma that is Ian Bell.

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