England set to ask weary Bell to open batting in quarter-final

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The Independent Online

England are seriously contemplating their third opening batting partnership of the World Cup. Ian Bell might be asked to move into the role already vacated by Kevin Pietersen and filled temporarily since by Matt Prior.

It would reflect an element of panic in the ranks for the quarter-final against Sri Lanka on Saturday, but England may feel they have to do something to give themselves their best chance of a solid start in the opening 10 overs.

Bell has opened 26 times in his 93 one-day innings and scored five of his 18 fifties there. The trouble is that, like Prior, he is beginning to show signs of weariness after playing in all of England's matches this winter.

The team's batting coach, Graham Gooch, said yesterday: "Do I think it would work? Yes. As far as I am concerned every top order player should aspire to open the batting in 50-over cricket. Whether they end up batting there or whether that's their best position, team management will decide but why wouldn't you want the whole 50 overs to dictate the terms of the game, to set the game up?"

* Danny Briggs finished with six for 45 as England Lions completed a 258-run triumph over Windward Islands in Dominica yesterday. Chasing a victory target of 356, the hosts crumbled to 97 all out.