Ian Bell admits he has fallen short of match-winning efforts too often as an England opener but is ready to put that behind him after a record knock of 187.
Bell hit 20 fours and three sixes in a 145-ball knock against an Australian Prime Minister’s XI, and in the process registered England’s best score in one-day cricket.
It was enough to settle a high-scoring contest in the tourists’ favour, by a margin of 60 runs, and ranks as a sizeable achievement for a player who was sweating for his place in the side a matter of weeks ago.
Bell was not required for England’s last five matches in Sri Lanka before Christmas but earned a recall in the aftermath of Alastair Cook’s departure as captain.
Bell knows a record of three centuries in 150 one-day internationals is not enough for a player of his calibre and intends on changing that for the better in the forthcoming Tri-Series and World Cup.
“One thing I’ve probably been guilty of in the time I’ve been opening is getting to 60, 70, 80 but never really gone on and enjoyed myself the way I did today,” he said.
“I’ve been guilty in one-day cricket of getting a lot of 50s and not converting enough, but this is what I can do if I bat 45.5 overs or whatever it was.
“I’ve spoken to coach Peter Moores about that and I believe I can play at the top of the order for England. The thing is converting starts into match-winning scores.
“Today was pretty much perfect template-wise and that’s how I’d like to play in one-day cricket. If I can do that a couple of times this winter, that’s great for the team.”
Bell was honest enough to accept he was not a certain pick in the first XI, with the Twenty20 opener Alex Hales having his supporters and Gary Balance also involved in the 15-man squad.
But he has benefited from a vote of confidence from Cook’s replacement as skipper, Eoin Morgan.
“Coming out here I didn’t know where I was going to bat or if I would start, so it was nice to have a good chat with Morgs and for him to say I would get first crack at opening,” said Bell.
“That filled me with a lot of confidence.
“I’ve done a lot of netting in the last month or so but not a lot of game time. it was nice to get a really big score in a competitive match.
“You want it to be competitive, people playing for places.
“That’s a good thing but it’s nice to get on the tour and start well.”
Opposition paceman Pat Cummins, who will be part of the Australia squad in the Tri-Series and the World Cup opener against England on February 14, praised Bell but made a cheeky prediction for the coming weeks.
“The innings he played was pretty faultless,” said the seamer, whose six overs cost 52.”