I wanted to write a post about the engima that is Ian Bell, the almost-double centurion against South Africa, but I see that Alex Massie has beaten me to it. He’s right when he notes that Bell cops far more criticism than is warranted (no one should be compared to the Shermanator), especially given the statistical background that puts him ahead of much of England’s batting line-up.
Still, Bell’s a difficult figure to root for or feel confident in. He’s more Manjrekar than Tendulkar; more Atapattu than Jayasuriya. That’s not to discount his enormous talent and classical flair (indeed, both Manjrekar and Atapattu were hugely accomplished). But Kevin Pietersen said it best when, watching Bell move quickly to 30 from 18 balls, he asked himself, “Am I batting with Ian Bell here?” He just never strikes me as the man who will turn the tables on his opponent, or rescue his team from a sore spot. Perhaps this is just perception or bias, like the way I feel about Wasim Jaffer or Simon Katich. For now, however, I’m satisfied. If only Paul Collingwood would get out of his funk, then all will be well with the English team.