Perhaps England’s most stylish batsmen when in form, Ian Bell finds his place under threat yet again heading into the third Ashes Test on his home ground at Edgbaston.
By Jack Vittles – Lead Cricket Writer – @JackVSport
Having made just 116 runs in eight innings thus far this summer, the veteran of over 100 Tests, is looking increasingly under pressure in the middle order. He has retained his place for the third Test, with the selectors ruling that Gary Ballance had to be the man to make way.
His replacement, Jonny Bairstow, is not a top order player, which means that Bell once again finds himself being asked to make the jump to number three in the order. A position in which he has enjoyed limited success in averaging just under 40, despite making a double century from number three against India in 2011.
Sixty in the second innings of the first Test at Cardiff hinted at a return to form for the classical right-hander. However, two cheap dismissals at Lord’s have piled the pressure back on, and with England looking to embrace a new youthful, positive style of Test cricket, the senior man may be the player to make way sooner rather than later.
Former England opener Geoff Boycott certainly thinks Bell is drinking at the last chance saloon, telling BBC Radio 5 Live:
It could be the end. They can’t go on with someone not getting runs.
If you have played over 100 Tests, you need to take responsibility for the very difficult position of number three. You need to be a bit like an opener. The way England are playing at the moment, they definitely need three openers at the top. Bell has to shoulder that responsibility and go up front. He needs to help the other guys out.
With the third Test taking place at his beloved Edgbaston, now would be the ideal time for Bell to score his first Test century on his home turf.