Ian Bell: Luckily the X-rays showed no fracture
View from the middle: Spinners always try to create a bit of mystery before a series talking about new deliveries
Tuesday 17 January 2012
It was right at the end of my final practice session before the First Test that the ball came up off a length and hit me on the left wrist. Graham Gooch, England's batting coach, was using the side-arm – the piece of kit he uses to give us throw-downs in the nets – and, in the last minute of practice, I caught one.
I was confident I would be OK, but you can't take any chances, so Mark Weatherspoon, one of the team doctors, bandaged the wrist and then it was off to hospital with him and our physio Ben Langley to get it X-rayed.
Fortunately, the X-rays showed there had been no fracture, and under those circumstances, I'll always be willing to play in a Test match.
Since I broke a bone in my foot while fielding during a one-day international against Bangladesh in July 2010, I've had a good idea of what's serious and what isn't. Even after I was struck, I was able to move my hand and the pain didn't feel anything like as bad as it did in that Bangladesh game, so I was confident from the beginning that it wouldn't be serious.
While at the hospital, I had a chance to read an article about Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan off-spinner, and his new delivery, which they're calling the "teesra". We'd seen some footage of a recent one-day match against Sri Lanka, where the commentators picked up on a different ball he seemed to be bowling, and we've got to be aware of these things because we don't want to be surprised by them.
If he has developed another delivery, though, that's brilliant. Let's take it on. Let's look forward to that challenge, because if he's got three different deliveries and you still score runs against him, then what a plus that is for the team. He was the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2011, and I've played against Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, so I know how good batsmen feel when they can look back at the end of a series and know they've scored runs against that class of bowler. That's the challenge for our batsmen in these three Tests.
What we can't do, though, is get caught up in wondering what delivery he's just bowled, because that way, you stop focusing on scoring runs. I'm sure all the close fielders will be shouting about it, and there is a lot that goes on before Test series where spinners try to create a bit of mystery by talking about new deliveries. Warne used to do it all the time.
It's also important that people remember this series for the cricket after the spot-fixing scandal at Lord's in August 2010. We all want to put a line under what happened and we've got a great opportunity to do that. We have a responsibility to play the game right. I'm sure we'll both play it hard and but make sure nothing crosses the line and that the headlines are about cricket.
We got to the top of the ICC Test rankings last year, but the hardest part is to stay there, and the challenge now is for us still to be here in a year's time. That's important. People are going to target us now and think their biggest Test series is the one against England, and that is going to be a bit different. There is so much more for us to achieve, and one of those things is to play better on the subcontinent and in subcontinental conditions, which is what we're likely to find during these three Tests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
If we could win this Test series and follow it by winning in Sri Lanka and India later in the year, it would be one of our biggest achievements. Our Ashes win in Australia last year was one of the best things ever, but to win here and then on the subcontinent would be just as big. We're a lot more used to the style of cricket played in England, South Africa and Australia; we've honed our skills on quicker wickets, whereas in this series we'll play on slower, lower wickets, so it's a real test of our talents.
Apart from South Africa, Pakistan and England are probably the two form teams in Test cricket now, so the challenge is for us to keep our run going and I'm confident we're capable of doing it.
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