The summer is looking good for the national team according to Warwickshire and England batsman Ian Bell, who has just been selected to captain the England Lions side when they face Australia in a four-day game from the 1st July.
Speaking exclusively to Cricket World during tests of adidas Light Stabilising Technology (LST™) lenses, Bell spoke of his surprise when he was called up for the England Lions:
“I didn't think that they (England) would want to take many people away from Warwickshire, so it was a nice surprise to be picked for the Lions and an even better surprise to be captain," he revealed.
An exciting week of cricket lies in wait which sees England take on Warwickshire and Australia face up the Lions, both matches starting on the same day. With Graham Onions and Steve Harmison leading the bowling attack for the Lions' game, Bell believes that England bowling attack has a lot of strength in depth if injury were to strike and that this game gives them an oppurtunity to have a closer look at the new-look Australia team.
“It's a slightly new-look Aussie team to what we're used to, so it will be a (chance to have a) closer look in the field at the new guys they've got.” he added.
Bell also championed the early season performances of the English bowling attack:
“To have Graham Onions and Steve Harmison in the Lions side is a great thing.
“Those two are in fantastic form at the minute and they've got a little battle between themselves to see who can take the most wickets for Durham.
“That's a great position for England to be in to have two bowlers that have taken so many wickets already that can't get into the England team.”
The Warwickshire batter is confident that the England Test team can perform well in the Ashes this summer:
“It's nice to see that the guys, especially the bowling attack, seem to be peaking at the right time.
“We've got Fred (Andrew Flintoff) coming back into the team and it's good to see the bowling attack peaking at the right time, and with the batting looking solid, hopefully we can peak for the Ashes this summer.”
After being dropped during the winter tour to the West Indies, Bell will be looking to stake a claim to break into what now seems like a settled batting line up in time for the Ashes with a strong performance for the Lions. He stated that he would love to recreate the form that saw him make 199 against South Africa last summer.
“To score 199 at Lord's was a bit of a dream for me,” he recalled when asked to nominate his best performance in the game to date.
“Hopefully I can recreate that in the future.”
In terms of Warwickshire, things aren't going as well as hoped for Bell and his colleagues, lying in eighth place in the County Championship, however the future looks bright, with Ashley Giles and Dougie Brown at the helm placing particular emphasis on bringing through young English talent.
“One thing I was always lucky with was that growing up at Warwickshire, the youth set up was always held in high regard,” he said.
“Ashley Giles is massively keen to go down the young English route rather than get Kolpak players in.”
Bell highlighted young seamer Chris Woakes as a potential international class performer.
“He's 20 years old and leading our attack. I think there's no doubt that he's an England player of the future.”
The former England international then went on to say that Director of Cricket Giles is keen to promote the development of Warwickshire's younger players:
“I hear Ashley (Giles) say a lot that it's not about just winning trophies for Warwickshire. It's about producing England players that are Warwickshire born and bred.”
Ian Bell will face up to the old enemy with memories of the historic 2005 win still very clear in his mind, and he will be hoping that a strong performance for the Lions will put him in contention for reselection in the Ashes.
Adidas is the official eyewear supplier to the ECB. Ian Bell is pictured wearing adidas Adivista sunglasses with Light Stabilising Technology(TM) lenses which help improve ball visibility by up to 28%. For more information please call 0208 987 8899 or visit www.adidas.com/eyewear
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