Ian Bell: Hooray! I've found it! That elusive thing called rhythm is back
View From the Middle: I've spent a lot of time being bounced up and down the order. That can be disruptive
Wednesday 09 January 2013
After searching most of the back end of last year for it, I'm happy to report that I've laid my hands on that elusive rhythm I spoke so much about during the Test series. Although after a dodgy moment today when our plane dummied to make a landing but pulled up because of a dog on the runway, I'm just pleased to be around to put that rhythm to good use.
My hundred in the last Test gave me the time to get my footwork right and also my alignment right. I'm stiller at the crease and the feeling of intense pressure has gone. Don't get me wrong, I know all that I've done in these two warm-up games will be forgotten if I can't do it for real on the big stage in tomorrow's game.
But you've got to remember that, just like my beloved Aston Villa, we've got a young squad and a new boss out here and we may not see results overnight. Having said that, after spending a week with these guys, there's certainly enough talent in this dressing room to beat India and don't forget, only one other England team has ever won a one-day series here in India, so it is not going to be easy.
There's definitely a different atmosphere around the place, especially with Ashley Giles taking over as coach. I know Ash really well from our time with England and from playing together at county level. He's achieved such a lot in such a short space of time with Warwickshire and I know from our brief chats already that he's got his own ideas about how we should be looking to play.
It's been a lot of fun to play under a new coach and with some different faces and it's certainly a lot quieter around the place without Swanny's antics. A few of the boys have tried to step up but you can't replace Graeme. It's just nice to have some peace and quiet for a change!
With all these fresh-faced kids around, it's hard not to think back to when I first broke into the team in 2004. I remember how hard it can be and I'm conscious of trying to help new guys settle quickly. But these ones don't need my help, especially as I feel it's got a lot easier for the young players to come into the international set-up these days.
The one thing that has got much better since I came into the side is the way we share information as players. We used to be left to work it out for ourselves but under Straussy we were encouraged to share our ideas on how to play particular bowlers or try a new technique. Trust me, that's definitely a better way to build a stronger team.
While there are times when I look at these younger guys with a bit of envy, to be honest I'm pretty happy with where my game is now. I feel like I've got a big chunk of my career left and that the best of my batting is still to come.
I've played 119 one-dayers for England but I've spent a lot of those matches being bounced up and down the order and that can be disruptive. I think I've found my home at the top of the order and I want to stay there for the rest of my career.
The way I play my game, it suits the team to have me at the top of the order. The introduction of the two new balls to ODIs has changed the nature of the opener's role, maybe not so much in Indian conditions but that's certainly the case back home. With the Champions Trophy being held in England this summer, I feel I can make a big difference opening. The ball is going to do a lot more up front and you need good technique to get through that period – and that's what I pride myself on.
The next three weeks are a great chance for the younger guys to experience India but I must admit with my record here there's a part of me that's glad we won't be playing in these conditions again for a while. But what a way to say goodbye: packed houses, under the floodlights, and knowing how much the locals over here go mad for one-day cricket.
They go even more crazy for Kev, especially in his "home town" of Delhi, and it's great news that he has signed his new deal.
It has been a long time since KP and myself played one-day cricket together. We know how destructive he can be and I would definitely rather have him on my team than against me.
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