Bell blow hurts England as Harmison breaks through

England's Test series against New Zealand got off to a painful start last night when Ian Bell was taken to hospital for an X-ray on the first morning of the first Test.

Bell was taking evasive action while fielding at short leg when a full-blooded pull shot from Jamie How, the New Zealand opener, off the bowling of Ryan Sidebottom struck him hard on the side of his right hand as he instinctively brought his arms up in front of his face.

Bell immediately collapsed on the ground and stayed down for three or four minutes in obvious discomfort while receiving treatment from Kirk Russell, the England physiotherapist. As he was led from the field, a swelling the size of an egg could be seen, raising fears that he may well have broken a bone. But he was back at the ground –if not on the field – after lunch with the X-ray having revealed nothing worse than severe bruising to the arm.

He is expected to be fit to bat, a major fillip for an England batting line-up that does not possess great depth. If Bell is incapable of batting Tim Ambrose, making his Test debut, would come in at six and Sidebottom at seven. Such a scenario would place England's top order under huge pressure to score heavily. Owais Shah is England's back-up batsman, but he would only become available for the second Test in Wellington.

Bell's ailment was not the only concern for England on a morning dominated by the Black Caps' batsmen. Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, happily chose to bat after winning the toss and his openers made the most of a low, slow surface that offered the quicker bowlers very little assistance.

How and Matthew Bell made a watchful start against accurate bowling from Sidebottom and Matthew Hoggard, but once the pair became used to the pace and bounce of the pitch runs began to flow. Both batsmen struck boundaries off the front and back foot as England's seamers searched for a breakthrough.

England's sole moment of joy came in Stephen Harmison's second over, the 14th of the day, when Bell, on 19, sliced a drive high to Kevin Pietersen fielding at fine gully. Stephen Fleming, playing in his last Test series before retirement, came in and played several pleasant shots, finding the boundary whenever England's bowlers strayed off line.

The introduction of Monty Panesar tightened things up for the tourists, the left-armer turning a couple of deliveries past the outside edge of How's bat. The sight offered Panesar encouragement but it will have pleased New Zealand too – the Black Caps have selected two spinners for the Test.

At lunch New Zealand had moved nonchalantly to 87 for 1, with How and Fleming unbeaten on 39 and 29 respectively.

Bell is not the first England player to visit a nearby hospital – Phil Mustard, England's reserve wicket-keeper, underwent surgery on his nose yesterday after being accidentally hit in the face during the team's final practice session before the first Test.

Mustard was feeding the electric bowling machine in the net next to where Pietersen was batting when a full-blooded heave by the batsman, off the bowling of Panesar, went over the netting, struck part of the metal stanchion and hit him flush on the nose. Mustard was standing on a chair at the time and the force of the blow knocked him backwards and on to the ground.

Mustard remained prostrate for five minutes while Russell and the England doctor, Mark Wotherspoon, attended. He was then taken for an X-ray where a fracture was spotted. He is expected to resume training later this week.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before