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Monday, December 3, 2012
India is the one territory Ian Bell admits he has yet to tame as an England batsman.
Bell admits he has a point to prove - to himself and others on his return to the Test tour in time for the third match of four, after the birth of his son back in England.
An average of little more than 18 against the hosts in India is a jarring contrast to the England number five’s overall career profile of approaching 50 runs an innings.
In fact, Bell has made just one Test half-century on Indian soil.
If he regains his place in Kolkata this week - Jonny Bairstow deputised while he was in England with his wife and baby boy - Bell will not lack for motivation.
England will be banking on more productivity too, as they seek to consolidate on last week’s famous series-levelling 10-wicket win in Mumbai.
Bell points out India alone, not Asia, has been his stumbling block to date.
“My first tour to Pakistan went really well; I’ve played nice cricket in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“But here is the one place it’s not gone so well - the same in one-day cricket, too.”
His last Test experience here brought an embarrassing golden duck in the first innings - caught at deep mid off trying to hit Pragyan Ojha out of the ground - and then 22 at the second attempt as England lost by nine wickets.
He said: “Maybe sometimes I have tried a bit too hard - and that shot in Ahmedabad was a sign of me saying ‘Right, I’m coming at you, I’m not going to sit here and just get out’.”
Since then Bell has become a father for the first time, and seen from afar - thanks to Mumbai centurions Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen - how to prosper in India.
“From what’s happened in the last week, my whole thought about that has changed, I guess,” he added.
“Maybe I’ve built a bit too much on myself in the past, and now I just want to go out and trust my ability and spend time in the middle and score runs.”
In Bell’s absence, England also made an historic announcement last week - that his former club-and-country team-mate and then Warwickshire coach Ashley Giles is to take charge of the national limited-overs squad and leave Andy Flower to control the Test side.
Bell is confident the new arrangement will work well.
“It is exciting for him. He has been fantastic at Warwickshire,” he said of Giles.
“When he took over at Warwickshire, we were in a tricky position ... he’s been able to turn us into a really good side.
“He’s created an environment where players can learn to do things for themselves. I hope, with Andy, he can do that here.
“I hope this will have a great impact for Andy and the whole back-room staff.”