Ian Bell: England's pretty boy hampered by familiar failings
Tuesday 05 January 2010
With a veiled hint of impatience the other day England's coach, Andy Flower, warned that pretty nets were not enough. He was referring specifically to one of the richest talents in his side, Ian Bell, than whom nobody in the world does prettier nets.
The trouble is that this has not always translated into pretty innings. Or if they have been pretty they have not always been substantial. So it was, sadly, again yesterday on the second day of the third Test.
Bell did a whole heap of pretty things. The cover drive with which he got off the mark was matched by a second a few minutes later. But he was not all showy, he was prepared, it seemed, to tough it out. This was Bell's big chance to persuade his critics that they have misjudged him: he has never scored England's only hundred in an innings, indeed he has never scored the first.
When Alastair Cook was out yesterday, the centre of the stage was Bell's. He executed a late cut of great beauty, one of three sumptuously-timed fours in an over from Dale Steyn. This then was finally the day, following that indubitably helpful hundred in Durban last week, when Bell would break through. He did not, of course, he biffed a half tracker down point's throat. Same old story, same old Bell.
There were mitigating circumstances as his colleague, Cook who was also dismissed tamely, surmised. "The nature of some of the dismissal was disappointing but they didn't let us off the hook all day," said Cook. "They kept us under constant pressure, keeping the run rate down and when you're not scoring then it builds. It's a very fair wicket. If you do bowl badly you do go but there's a little bit of uneven bounce and nibble to keep the bowlers interested."
It was more South Africa's day than England's after their poor start when the last four first-innings wickets went down in the first 17 balls of the morning. Jacques Kallis, whose 33rd Test century was brought to a close to his first ball of the day, said: "If you keep the opposition under pressure struggling to score, sometimes when the bad balls do come you try and hit them too hard or it's not as bad as you think."
For all the batsmen's errors it is a true Test pitch. The batsmen have to work hard but the bowlers know that virtue will bring its reward. There was a hint of movement throughout. Kallis, who has played here all his professional life – this is his 17th Test match at Newlands – was surprised.
"It's a different wicket from what Newlands usually is. It's perhaps a bit a more even than what we've been used to in the past and has perhaps done a little more. It certainly makes for exciting cricket. I think it will be tough to chase down 300 on that wicket. That's our aim but it will be difficult to get there." It will require significantly more than a pretty net.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Think before you ink: Manchester United fan gets Sir Alex Ferguson tattoo - and will regret it for the rest of his life
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal player ratings: How did Ozil and Welbeck do in Germany?
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City player ratings: Joe Hart? Thomas Muller? Jerome Boateng? Who was the star man?
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Mesut Ozil given the worst rating possible by German newspaper Bild after poor performance
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
- 5 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter