Cricket: Bell Strikes out on a Solitary Journey ; MIDDLESEX 298 WARWICKSHIRE 277-6

By Culley, Jon | The Independent (London, England), April 29, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Cricket: Bell Strikes out on a Solitary Journey ; MIDDLESEX 298 WARWICKSHIRE 277-6


Culley, Jon, The Independent (London, England)


Much to the Warwickshire captain Nick Knight's relief after Wednesday's late arrival, there were no collisions on the M6 to hold anyone up yesterday; just a persistent drizzle, which kept everyone waiting for play until two o'clock.

Empty, echoing Test grounds under heavily grey skies can be depressingly grim places. Equipped with extra layers and broad umbrellas, cricket spectators, of course, are always prepared. Supporters of the defending champions at first were unsure that it had been worth hanging about.

Warwickshire's run-gathering was so consistently good last summer that rapid progress to a score of 400 or more became almost the norm, whether batting first or second. This time, against a Middlesex attack that rarely conceded easy runs, it took them 96 overs to reach half that total.

Six wickets had been lost by that point but not that of Ian Bell, who applied himself with a diligence unmatched among his team-mates to complete his first century of the new campaign. Warwickshire needed it, too, struggling as they were to construct a worthwhile reply to a Middlesex total that was looking better than it had when they were making it.

Last year was a big one in the career of the right-hander, whose 23- year-old shoulders are becoming accustomed to bearing a weight of expectation.

No one scored more runs in the Championship than his 1,498, which earned him his Test debut against the West Indies at The Oval, where he made 70 batting at five, followed by a clutch of one-day internationals in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and captaincy of England A in South Africa.

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