Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flower wants more of same from Bell

Andy Flower is delighted with the new Ian Bell - but warns he must continue playing important innings for England.
Bell has cast aside his once diffident deportment to play three hugely significant innings in his last four Tests, most recently a tour-de-force 78 at Newlands yesterday.

He was eventually ninth out with 17 balls to go but - principally in a century stand with Paul Collingwood which ate up 57 overs - did more than anyone to help salvage a stalemate which means England head for the final Test in Johannesburg in an unbeatable position.

Bell was following up an equally important 76 to help England clinch the Ashes at The Oval last summer, and 140 in their victory over South Africa in Durban over Christmas.

Flower is impressed but wants to see more of the same from one of England's most naturally gifted batsmen.

"It was an important innings from Bell - especially backing up the one in Durban," said the England coach.

"He contributed an innings that changed the course of the game - and he's been accused of not doing that enough in his career.

"He's done it twice, one to contribute to a win in Durban and here to a draw.

"Obviously we reap the benefits too as a team, and this is some evidence of it. But we are looking for him to make consistent and medium to long-term contributions, not just nip in with a couple.

"These have been fine contributions, but we are looking for a lot more from him. England have invested a lot with Ian Bell, and this is some of him paying England back."

In his 52nd Test, 27-year-old Bell could not have done much more - other than perhaps seeing the job through to the very end.

"He showed a lot of grit here and in different circumstances in Durban he played the situation well - so he adjusted the way he played," added Flower.

"But that determination and fight is what he should always have.

"His contribution at The Oval was huge - that 70 he made was important - but to see him back it up soon afterwards is excellent."

Whether Bell will ever move back up the order, to number five or even three, is a moot point - although Flower appears well aware the player himself aspires to do so.

"Certainly his record suggests that (he might be suited to number five or six)," he said.

"I know he would never want to be labelled as such, but his record is suggesting that."

Bell's work had to be completed last night by Graham Onions - who, for the second time in three Tests, blocked out the final over to close out a draw with nine wickets down.

It was another mighty scrape for England. But Flower nonetheless saw it as a major achievement to stop South Africa winning at a venue where they habitually do so.

"We feel a bit of both relief and pride - and I think when the guys reflect on this they will be very proud about achieving the draw," he said.

"South Africa have a very good record here, so to actually draw the game was a good achievement for us - considering the situation we were in."

England's lasting reward will come if they can convert their 1-0 lead into a series victory in Johannesburg.

In the meantime, they are staying in the lap of luxury at one of the best hotels in the world - near the famous waterfront in Cape Town.

It is an extravagance which does not perturb Flower, who nonetheless acknowledges a jarring contrast with the deprivation experienced by thousands living not far from the doorstep.

"I am comfortable with our players staying here, because I'm confident that this group of players can keep their feet on the ground," he said.

"But I'm not comfortable with the comparison with some of the poverty that you'd experience in Africa.

"Some of our families went out on the township tour Thursday - and if anyone needs to be brought down to earth that would be a great tour for people to go on."

Subscribe in a reader

No comments:

Post a Comment