Ian Bell: I'm out of form but one knock can turn it all around for me
Matter of time before a good player gets a big score – and the Twenty20 and ODIs offer a sense of freedom
Sunday 08 June 2008
I cannot complain about the way I was out, third ball, for a duck. The ball from Iain O'Brien was up there, straight, and I fell over a little bit. Because I've been short of runs, it's possible that I was a bit too eager to get on with it. I saw the delivery and wanted to get off the mark. It was obviously disappointing, but that's cricket. C'est la vie; you have to get onwith the job.
All the guys in the dressing room have been great about it. They recognise that I have scored a lot of runs for England in the past 18 months. They know I'm a good player. I know I'm a good player, and an out-of-form batsman is only one innings away from turning himself round. It's all down to me now. Hopefully, you stay strong enough in yourself. It's the same with Paul Collingwood, who's also out of form. Colly's got the same stats as me and it's only a matter of time before he gets a big score.
People have said that I should have played for Warwickshire in a county game before this Test, but you have to balance playing in the middle with rest.
However, what with the amount of rain, the amount of bad weather, I've batted only three times in the past three weeks. That's three weeks down the line without much middle time, and what you need when you're out of form is three to four hours in the middle. I've been hitting the ball sweetlyin the nets but I haven't been able to get past the first 30 balls in an innings.
I'm dying for that in the next two or three weeks. I'm looking forward to the one-day series, and obviously I'll be with Warwickshire for a Twenty20game on Wednesday. That's useful too. It frees you up.
Test cricket mode is different. You watch the ball, watch it hard and try to forget the immediate problems, but you need just to play and get yourself back in form. You can net as much as you like, but there is nothing like being out in the middle.
Yet you need rest too. Test cricket is a 12 months-a-year job now, so the idea that I should play a county game for Warwickshire wasn't really discussed. The current strategy is to play as much as possible, but there's a lot of cricket coming up and being mentally fresh is important. It's a difficult balance, but when you have a break, as we did between Manchester and Nottingham, you have to make the most of it.
This has been a really strange, scrappy series. The batsmen haven't scored a lot of runs. The bat hasn't dominated. At times, we've been inconsistent with both bat and ball. Probably at times we're not playing particularly good cricket, but we're winning. We have played New Zealand six games in a row now and we've probably just edged them in all departments, but they fight all the way. One thing we have shown isthat, under pressure, we've delivered. As a side we have shown a lot of character.
Jimmy Anderson on Friday was as good as I've seen him bowl: marvellous control of inswing and outswing. The pitch might have quickened up on the second day. Speaking to Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad, they said it was swinging a bit but not to any great extent. The overhead conditions had changed; there was a bit of rain and it was muggy, and that doesn't help the batsmen one bit. But you can't take anything away from the way Jimmy bowled; he showed he can step up when it matters.
It will be good to win the series two to nil, because it's only five weeks before we play South Africa and they are probably the form team in world cricket at the moment. It would be nice to go into that series with some real momentum.
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