Bell ton inspired by previous woes


Published: Tuesday 14th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Centurion Ian Bell was delighted to create some happy memories in Antigua, having experienced one of his lowest moments on the island six years ago.

Bell was axed on the 2009 West Indian tour, paying the price for his part in England’s 51 all out in Jamaica.

Antigua was his first game on the sidelines and at the time he did not know when, or if, he would get back in the side.

In the end his exile was a brief one and he went on to establish himself as fixture in the side.

But the disappointment never left the 33-year-old, making his authoritative 143 on day one at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium all the sweeter.

Without his diligent knock England would have been significantly worse off than 341 for five, a foundation which should allow them to build a match-winning position on Tuesday.

“To come back here and score a hundred in the place I got dropped is a nice feeling. It’s quite satisfying to put that one right,” he said.

“It’s been at the back of my mind for a while. Coming here to Antigua, this was where I got dropped after our shemozzle in Jamaica, so I was determined to come out and make it count.

“I had to work very hard to get back into the team after that tour, so it meant a lot to me.”

Bell was involved in two crucial stands, sharing 177 with Joe Root and 130 with all-rounder Ben Stokes.

When he arrived at the crease England were struggling on 34 for three but Bell never batted with anything other than complete composure.

Stokes will resume on 71 on day two, having hit the accelerator in a boundary-strewn final hour.

And on the occasion of his 22nd Test ton, Bell was happy to share the plaudits.

“As soon as Joe he comes out he’s a positive, busy player,” said Bell.

“West Indies were brilliant for two hours but we wanted to be as busy as we could to get a start.

“We wanted to put pressure on rather than leave balls all day, the more positive we were the better.

“And then to watch Stokesy play like that at the end was fantastic.

“He hit the ball as clean as anyone I’ve seen. It was a brilliant end to the day for us.”

While England will be delighted with their position, concerns over their top three were only exacerbated.

Jonathan Trott’s return to Test cricket lasted precisely three balls, Gary Ballance continues to look scratchy after his World Cup travails and captain Alastair Cook remains in serious need of a hundred.

The man who got his wicket this time, paceman Kemar Roach, intensified the focus on the touring skipper when asked about the delivery.

“Obviously we have our team plans because Alastair Cook has a weakness – everyone knows that – we just have to execute it as much as possible,” said Roach.

“Today our plan worked.”

Published: Tuesday 14th April 2015 by The News Editor

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