Bell's best leaves Essex with battered feeling

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The Independent Online

Ian Bell returned career-best figures with bat and ball in the National League yesterday to inspire Warwickshire to a crushing 125-run victory over Essex at Chelmsford in the First Division.

First the 21-year-old right-hander hammered 125 from 109 deliveries as Warwickshire totalled 307 for 5 and he followed it up with 5 for 41 with his medium-paced bowling as the home side fell for 182 in the 28th over.

Bell's excellent work helped Warwickshire to their first win of the season in the competition. Most of his runs arrived during a second-wicket stand of 173 in 28 overs with Jonathan Trott, who made 59.

Bell should have been dismissed when he had scored 87 but Ronnie Irani spilt an easy catch at mid-off after a rare blemish on Bell's part. Irani did accept a second chance to dispatch Bell, but Trevor Penney and Graham Wagg continued to score in an entertaining half-century partnership for the fifth wicket.

Essex were soon in trouble when they replied, losing four wickets before the 50 was raised and another shortly afterwards. With half their side back in the pavilion for 73, it was always going to be a case of Essex trying to achieve respectability rather than mounting a challenge. That they managed that was due to an explosive 52 from 29 balls from Graham Napier before he became one of Bell's victims.

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