Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bell Back from the Brink for England

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bell Back from the Brink for England

Article excerpt

Marcus leads from front

Ian Bell completed one of the toughest weeks of his cricket career on an unexpected high as he shared a century partnership with stand-in England captain Marcus Trescothick to put his team in control of the first Test against Pakistan.

Seven days ago, Bell was coming to terms with his omission from England's final tour match and the fact he would therefore be dropped for the start of this three-Test series. The 23-year-old batsman had scored just six runs in his last four Test innings ( and his struggles in practice at the start of this tour culminated in the embarrassment of being bowled out in the nets by England's doctor, Peter Gregory.

As he reflected on a second day in Multan which saw him make 71 in a second-wicket partnership of 180 with centurion Trescothick (135no) and closed with England on 253 for three in reply to the hosts' under-par 274 all out, he spoke with honesty about his difficulties since arriving in Pakistan.

"It's been hard work, character-building," he said. "To be bowled by the doc isn't the most pleasant of feelings, and I've been scratching around a little bit."

Bell found himself back in the reckoning, and pushed up the order to No 3, because of the untimely knee injury to Michael Vaughan ( an event which has also made this Test doubly significant for Trescothick.

While Vaughan's unofficial vice-captain rose to the challenge of leading his country for just the second time in a Test match by batting most of the day to finish unbeaten with 16 fours and a six off 211 balls, there was plenty of reason for Bell to feel pretty satisfied too.

"It was obviously a big one for me with Vaughany's injury ( and it's nice for me to get the confidence back," he said. "I went back to a lot of very simple basic things which have got me back on track ( and it was good to go out there and feel as if I played quite nicely."

Bell could have been forgiven more than the usual nerves when he went in at 18 for one after the early loss of Andrew Strauss, lbw on the back foot to Mohammad Sami.

But Bell said: "Marcus really did help me out there, always talking to me. …

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