Ian Bell: It's been a real struggle but as I turn 30, it's time for a few 100s

View From The Middle: I know that things have not gone my way but I haven't lost any confidence

It was amazing to finish the winter with victory over Sri Lanka but it can't take away from the fact that results haven't gone our way. It has been very difficult, very hard work, for me and for the team.

There's no hiding that I haven't been able to score as many runs as I would have liked this winter. Before the matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, I'd had two or three very good years with very few failures, but this has been a real struggle for me. I'm now looking forward to playing some Championship and one-day cricket for Warwickshire to regain some form and rhythm, and score some runs.

We've played against some unorthodox spin this winter. Saeed Ajmal and Pakistan were different to what we normally come across, so it was a great lesson for all of us. Playing spin in England is different from playing it on the subcontinent. Our record here isn't good and we want to get better.

 



We haven't won a lot of series in the subcontinent but we have put on good performances in Tests here, and this is one of those matches. We want to win a series in the subcontinent and we can take a lot from the game in Colombo and from Galle. We want to go to India next winter and learn from our mistakes, hit the ground running, rather than playing catch-up.

I know that things haven't gone my way, but I can honestly say that I haven't lost any confidence in my ability to do well for England. I've developed so much as a player over the last two or three years and last summer I got to No 3 in the ICC's batting rankings. It has been disappointing, but it is certainly not due to my taking my foot off the pedal.

I still believe I'm a good player of spin and I've got some strengths in that department which I've proved over a period of time, and I will still come out and play the spinners exactly as I have always done. I will still look to come down the pitch and hit them over the top, and I will still look to sweep against them.

Last time we were in Sri Lanka, I averaged nearly 43.5, and I've scored hundreds in Bangladesh and in Pakistan. I know that India is probably somewhere I need to go to have a good tour, but we played India in England last summer and I had a great series. We're No 1 in the world, but we're honest enough to know we need to get better and that's an important position for us to be in.

In two days' time I turn 30. Hopefully, there'll be decent enough weather for me to have some friends round for a barbecue to celebrate, but the vital thing is that I believe I will be coming into my best years as a batsman.

All I wanted to do when I was a kid was play 100 Test matches for England, and if I look back on my career now, so far, so good. I've got 74 Test caps and I hope there will be another five or six years of playing at a very high level. Someone told me recently that I was fourth on the list of highest Test run-scorers for England under the age of 30, so it's a pretty good position for me to be in and now I'm ready to kick on from there.

I don't feel physically tired at all and I just want to start playing some cricket for Warwickshire. Even though I don't play that much first-class cricket, I still feel a huge attachment to my county and, when I was growing up, I was probably more of a Warwickshire fan than an England fan.

But we've got a great English season to look forward to. After we play the West Indies, South Africa are the opponents in the second half of the summer – world No 1 against world No 2.

South Africa are as good as anyone in the world right now and they have a great bowling attack, so we have to make sure we're strong, confident and in good nick when they arrive.

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