Ian Bell: With rivals queuing up for my place, I really had to deliver this time

View From The Middle

If you had told me when I was walking off the pitch after "that" shot in Ahmedabad that I would be at the crease with an unbeaten century when England won a series in India, I would have said there was more chance of Santa coming down the chimney that night.

Fast forward a few weeks to Nagpur and Kev has just been dismissed to leave us three down, there's more than 100 overs left still in the series decider and I'm walking to the crease with people whispering about my career being on the line. The game is still very much in the balance and I can feel a lot of up-and-coming batsmen queueing up for my place. I said in my column last week that I was still struggling for rhythm and my first innings had proved that. If I had got out early in those conditions in Nagpur the whole complexion of the game would turn on its head.

As we have seen with Broady and Samit missing out, reputations don't count for anything, especially when you're trying to win a series. There are so many promising middle-order batsmen knocking on the door for places at the moment, from Jonny Bairstow to Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and now Joe Root, that nothing can be taken for granted.

I also knew that with players such as Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni in their batting line-up, even chasing 250 on that wicket would have been possible. You can be feeling quite comfortable in Indian conditions and all of a sudden things can change quite quickly. Me and Trotty were very keen on not getting too carried away. Even before tea on that last day, a flurry of wickets could have altered everything and I would be writing a very different column. I had to play against my natural instinct but if you want to become a quality player – and keep your place in this side – you have to be able to adapt.

There were definitely times when my head was telling me to be a bit more aggressive but I had to just hold and hold and hold and keep thinking of all those guys breathing down my neck. Once I had faced 250 balls and was set I could start to play a few shots.

You might even have noticed that I pulled out "that" lofted drive, but this time it went for six and not down the fielder's throat. After keeping it in the locker since Ahmedabad, I wanted to demonstrate that I had learnt my lesson.

Goochie played a huge part in sorting out my game ahead of the final Test. I'm lucky to have a mentor with his experience and knowledge in my corner and, I think the cameras spotted, even when I was walking off at the end, he was still providing a detailed dissection of my shot selection and technique – the man never stops!

It has been a massive whirlwind since coming off the pitch. After sharing some drinks in the dressing room, it was back to the hotel, a quick one with the Barmy Army in the hotel bar and then a mad dash to the plane so I'm looking forward to the chance to reflect over the next few days.

It's great to end 2012 on a high, especially a year that's been so incredible for British sport. Our performances at the start of the year were a big shock to all of us. It's not been our best 12 months and, until Monday, this hadn't been my best tour. But now I've got Joseph, an early Christmas present, and we've put cricket back on the map, which was important for us as a team – and me personally.

To win in India after 28 years is really special (made even sweeter for me because the Villa beat Liverpool at Anfield just before) but to do so coming back from a first-Test battering and to have lost the first three tosses as well on pitches us batters were dying to play first on, makes it an even more impressive achievement.

Everything was in India's favour: they produced wickets to order, won the tosses, had the crowd behind them. So, to come out and win in those conditions makes it just as big a high as winning in Australia two years ago was.

Speaking of the Ashes, it feels like it's really bubbling up nicely. Obviously our win in India has moved us up a gear and they've just pulled off a great win against a Sri Lanka after pushing South Africa all the way. Both teams go into the new year full of confidence and that's what you want to see. It's exactly those sort of series you want to be involved in and my century in the second innings has certainly moved that another step closer to being a reality for me.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin