It is a mantra in cricket that the best batsmen score big hundreds. They are not satisfied with pretty 40s or seductive 60s but grind on remorselessly to three figures and more, which means the England selectors must be delighted with the attitudes of the next crop of England batsmen.
Rob Key scored two hundreds in a match a fortnight ago, one of them just shy of a double century, Kevin Pietersen may have been slashing and smashing at the Rose Bowl yesterday but has the reputation of being greedy - which in cricketing circles is a compliment - and Ian Bell continues to collect runs so relentlessly that he is starting to border on an obsessive compulsive disorder.
All of which is absolutely perfect news for this summer as Bell is the man the selectors have decreed should face Australia in the Test matches. His form is not new either. It actually started at the beginning of last season after a winter in Perth during which he admitted he learned to grow up.
Once in, it is a complete surprise when he is dismissed and that is because his style of play does not change. He has a neat, compact stance, decisive feet movement either forward to the pitch of the ball (which is surprising for short men usually tend to bat from the crease with their weight on the back foot) or back, and a discipline that prevents any lust for glamour strokes.
Instead he bats and accumulates, re-scrapes guard and then bats and accumulates again. It is efficient yet elegant and mighty effective. So his dismay, obvious in his disconsolate walk from the wicket at chipping a return catch to Ian Fisher, was warranted as he was only on 79 at the time and his third century of the season had seemed a formality.
Instead it was left to his less celebrated partner, Jonathan Trott, to reach the milestone, his first Championship hundred in a year. His driving through the covers had a flamboyant flourish on the follow through but he was wisely circumspect to anything that merited caution. Fisher was swept and driven imperiously as Trott ensured Warwickshire a first-innings lead.
With the school pitch at this festival being slower and lower than a normal county ground, those runs could prove crucial on the final day. Warwickshire will want and need to score the bulk of their runs in the first innings before the pitch deteriorates and after the excellent partnership of 151 between Trott and Bell it was imperative that the rest of the middle order capitalised.
Alex Loudon played pleasantly, nurdling and scampering while Trott was subdued as Gloucestershire bowled to a ringed field. They were remiss, however, in allowing Upul Chandana to bowl a plentiful supply of full tosses without punishment.
Earlier in the week Gloucestershire hinted they were considering a second overseas player. Nathan Bracken, the Australian, has been mooted but what they desperately need is their first-choice one, Chandana, to find some form. Otherwise their dismal season could get worse.
- More about:
- Festive Events (including Carnivals)
- Ian Bell
- Kevin Pietersen