Bell rings up perfect reminder with century in front of selectors

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The Independent Online

If Ian Bell is to be the answer to England's No 3 dilemma, he could not have completed his 26th career century in better company as Warwickshire battled to an honourable draw at Trent Bridge.

The Nottingham ground was the venue chosen by England's selection panel for their final face-to-face deliberations ahead of tomorrow's squad announcement for the decisive fifth Ashes Test at The Oval next week.

Bell turned his overnight 92 to 126 while England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower were already engaged in what was to turn into a five-hour meeting with James Whitaker, Ashley Giles and national selector Geoff Miller in a room in the Radcliffe Road stand.

Building on Jonathan Trott's century of the previous day, Warwickshire, who had followed on some 169 behind after a poor first-innings effort, piled up 470 for 7 declared, giving Nottinghamshire a theoretical target of 302 from 42 overs. Stumps were drawn at 71 for 1.

Championship leaders Durham had to settle for a draw at Old Trafford, where Lancashire closed on 163 for 4, chasing 326, Mark Chilton finishing unbeaten on 79 while Graham Onions took 3 for 39 from 10 overs.

The most important result in the First Division came at Basingstoke, where Yorkshire eased their relegation fears by winning for the first time in 21 Championship matches, thanks largely to the efforts of Adil Rashid with bat and ball.

The 21-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder may still have something to do to convince the England selectors but there is no questioning his value to his county. He followed his unbeaten 117 as Yorkshire piled up 524 runs in their first innings with season's best figures of 5 for 41 as Hampshire were bowled out for 252 to lose by an innings and 22 runs.

Hampshire looked to be in control at 230 for 4 when Anthony McGrath called Rashid into the attack. The running-out of Sean Ervine for 48 proved to be the turning point, Hampshire losing their last six wickets for 22 runs, five of them to Rashid in a spell that began with Dimitri Mascarenhas caught behind for a first-ball duck.

Kent consolidated their lead in the Second Division with a 238-run defeat of Northamptonshire, who were bowled out for 90, James Tredwell taking 5 for 32.