Ian Bell may have retired from ODI cricket in 2015 but his hunger to get back into the Test team is still alive. After rediscovering himself in 2017 (Big Bash T20 tournament), Bell expressed his desire to make a comeback into the Test team, the reason why he retired from ODIs. The 36-year-old still seems to have a lot of cricket left in him and his century for Warwickshire in NatWest T20 Blast against Northamptonshire validates it.
After Warwickshire bowlers were walloped by Richad Levi (91) and Joshua Cobb (61), they posted a daunting total of 231 for 5. Even by T20 standards this was a huge score, irrespective of the flat pitch and short boundaries. Boyd Rankin and Jeetan Patel were the only bowlers who tackled the batsmen well.
In reply, Bell looked determined to put up a fight straightaway despite two quick wickets from the other end. He found a reliable partner in Adam Hose (64 runs from 39 balls) but he got run out in the later stages. The duo shared a world record third wicket partnership in T20 cricket, 171 runs from 85 balls.
Bell carried on with the runchase, sparing no bowler in his innings. He managed to score 131 runs off 62 deliveries before getting out on the first ball of the 19th over.
Unfortunately, the match ended in a tie but Bell single-handedly saved Warwickshire from an embarrassing loss with his maiden T20 century. He has been brilliant in the tournament scoring 287 runs from 6 games at an average of 71.75.
His innings led to fans asking for his Test call-up against India for five-match Test series starting August 1 –
@Ian_Bell still should be involved with the England squad in all formats. Quality player
— sean rutherford (@sean68669568) July 20, 2018
Belly in the form of his life. . Recall to England colours?
— julien cahn (@juliencahn) July 20, 2018
Should be back in the test side at 3.
— Spencer #FBPE (@Arithmetic66) July 21, 2018
Ian Bell scoring T20 hundreds. Would love to see him play Test cricket once again before he hangs up his boots. https://t.co/ikNw3n218U
— Shubh AggarWall (@shubh_chintak) July 21, 2018
@ian_bell surely has to be banging on the door for a test recall. Such a delightful batsman to watch when in form and he is currently on absolute fire @englandcricket @edsmithwriter Cook, Vince and Bell at 1,2,3 sounds pretty darn good to me
— Ben Howard (@Ben_Howard6) July 20, 2018
Hard to overlook Ian Bell for a recall to the England tam at the moment
— phil barker (@philbarker29) July 20, 2018
— Richard Chapman (@khlchapman) July 20, 2018
However, many would disagree as performance in T20 games doesn’t guarantee success in the longest format of the game. In the last three First-Class games he has played, he has scored three centuries, two in a single game. His career average is 42.69 and on subcontinent pitches he may have not fared as good as he has in home conditions but that works in his favour.
Bell has scored 991 runs in 12 Tests at an average of 52.15 against India in home conditions. This includes three centuries and three half centuries. Even the highest score of his Test career, 235 came against India.
England will need everything they have got to beat the No.1 Test side, even in favourable conditions. They are contemplating about calling Adil Rashid into the Test side, despite his retirement from the format seeing his performance against skipper Virat Kohli. Bell has been knocking on the English selectors’ doors for a long time, he may just get a chance in the ending stages of his career.