Ian Bell underlined his determination to find a way back into England's Test team by making an unbeaten half-century for Warwickshire at Taunton yesterday.
Bell, dropped after that humiliating and ultimately series-deciding innings defeat by West Indies in Jamaica two months ago, knows he has plenty to do to get back in favour with captain Andrew Strauss and newly appointed team director Andy Flower. But he made a decent start yesterday.
Promoted Warwickshire were put in by Somerset captain Justin Langer and lost the early wicket of Tony Frost. Then Ben Phillips added Darren Maddy and Jonathan Trott to his collection before Bell found a solid partner in Jim Troughton. The pair had taken the visitors from 66 for 3 to 189 without further loss when bad light halted play with England's former – and, if he has his way – future No 3 unbeaten on 84.
Bell went into the new campaign stating: "I've got to get back for the first West Indies Test next month. I've got to score so many runs that they have to pick me." Yesterday's four-hour plus innings included 13 fours and came off 160 balls.
In the Second Division, England Under-19 batsman Daniel Redfern underpinned a determined Derbyshire effort of 306 for 7 against Essex at Chelmsford after the visitors had been inserted. The top seven all went past 20 but only Redfern completed a half-century before being dismissed for 50. His runs came from 134 deliveries with eight boundaries.
South African Andrew Hall held Northants together at Grace Road, reaching an unbeaten 95 – with a six and 11 fours – out of 297 for 6. Leicestershire looked in charge when they had the visitors struggling on 111 for 5 but Hall and David Willey, the debut-making son of former England all-rounder and international umpire Peter Willey – put together a fine rescue act. Willey contributed 60.
Another relative of a famous England cricketer, Mike Gatting's nephew, Joe, was one of three Sussex century-makers at Cambridge University. Gatting led the way with 152, from just 156 balls with four sixes and 11 fours, and was followed to three figures by Luke Wright and Rory Hamilton-Brown as the students conceded 527 for 7.Reuse content