John Townsend: Belligerent Ian Bell hewn from school of Aussie knocks

The Aussie Angle: Bell was well within his rights to wait for Hill to adjudicate on the catch

Ian Bell may have scored centuries in three consecutive Ashes Tests but he was caught and didn’t walk in each of those matches as well. No longer the fresh-faced Sherminator of 2005, Bell has morphed into the Regurgitator whose innings blossom in their second life.

Given out to a nick behind in the Sydney Test in the last Ashes series, Bell had the decision overturned on review despite a faint noise and tepid Hot Spot suggesting a feather-light caress of ball by bat.

There was another feather at Trent Bridge that ended Bell’s splendid century, though he required the umpire’s finger to send him on his way.

And he smeared a catch to gully yesterday that everyone at Lord’s, bar the on-field umpires and third umpire, Tony Hill, knew was taken by Steve Smith. Bell (below) was well within his rights to wait for Hill to adjudicate on the catch.

And he would have known that his chances of survival skyrocketed the moment the incident was sent to the third umpire for video examination.

Former Australia coach John Buchanan made it a team rule some years ago that no batsman should walk on a low catch, even an obvious one, because the likelihood of the video confirming the capture was virtually non-existent. Some players were uncomfortable with the policy but none doubted its rationale. Bell has adopted the Australian way, just as he took to sledging when he first played in Australia a decade ago. Bell was a protégé of Australia’s current national selector, John Inverarity, who was coaching Warwickshire at the time. Inverarity recognised Bell’s unquestioned talent but believed the youngster in his charge would benefit from a tough season in Australian club cricket.

Bell duly turned up at Inverarity’s club, University of Western Australia, where his first act was to volunteer as a substitute in a lower-grade match.

The ginger-headed newcomer trotted on to the field, asked where he needed to go and, after placing himself within a few yards of the bat at gully, promptly took a one-handed blinder from the first ball he experienced on Australian soil.

Bell also bowled handy swingers and, frustrated one hot and wearisome day after a couple of nicks had not been rewarded, he eventually got his man and pointed him back to the pavilion with a long and colourful send-off.

The University players were in hysterics at Bell’s uncharacteristic burst of fury, which earned him an umpire’s report and required the calling in of a favour or two to prevent a suspension. “I was just doing what you blokes have been doing all season,” the miffed Bell explained to his bemused and tear-stained team-mates.

What Bell had not realised was that sledging was regulated by its own undefined but intrinsic rules of engagement and that going from silence to all-out assault was more comical than intimidating.

Bell didn’t take long to comprehend sledging’s nuances and didn’t bother wasting his breath thereafter.Neither do many Australians waste their time and wickets by walking, though Adam Gilchrist made it a cause célèbre at the 2003 World Cup. Don Bradman infamously, stood his ground after edging a shoulder-high slips catch in his return to Test cricket in 1946-47, prompting Wally Hammond to mutter about the spirit of cricket.

And the former Australia opener Justin Langer often had to be dislodged from his crease by crane, an action in stark contrast to his Bell-like reaction when Michael Vaughan failed to depart after striking a low catch to him at Adelaide in 2002-03.

Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin nicked and stayed at Trent Bridge; their actions dissimilar to those of Stuart Broad and Bell by degree rather than concept.

Spirit of cricket or not, walking has now become a matter of the utmost reliability – the replays don’t show and the players don’t go.

John Townsend is Cricket Writer for The West Australian

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
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

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride