Cricket: Bell Hoping the Critics Are Silenced after His Breakthrough Innings; Ian Bell, the Warwickshire and England Batsman, Talks to George Dobell, Chief Cricket Writer, about the Key Aspects of His Career
Byline: Ian Bell
Earliest cricketing memories: I remember playing cricket with my dad but the moment I knew I wanted to be a professional cricketer came in 1993. It was the NatWest Rnal at Lord's when Warwickshire beat Sussex in that amazing game. It really caught my imagination and was really a key moment for me. England didn't seem to win much at the time but Warwickshire were winning everything. I wanted to play for them from that moment.
Warwickshire: I feel very lucky. A few years after watching my heroes play at Lord's I was sharing a dressing-room with them. Playing alongside Dominic Ostler, Andy Moles and Dougie Brown was intimidating at Rrst but they were very supportive and I soon felt at home. Obviously there have been ups and downs along the way but it's fantastic to see the club getting back to the way it should be now. I don't ever want to play for another club and I'd like to captain it one day. Maybe that will have to wait until my England career comes to an end but I'd like to leave a massive mark on the club and help it achieve huge success.
Breakthrough: The innings the other day 199 v South Africa at Lord's feels that way. Maybe in the past I've been guilty of trying to bat the way other people thought I should. But that innings was the real me. After the double-century against Gloucestershire I had the conRdence to play my natural game and batted the way I knew I could. They were similar innings. I felt Quent throughout and hope I've silenced my critics now. Batting for that length of time is a massive conRdence boost and, now I've proved I can do it against a very good SouthAfrica attack, I feel conRdent I can do it again.
The other obvious breakthrough came in 2004. I made a lot of runs, including my Rrst double-century against Sussex at Horsham. I played pretty well earlier in that week against Shropshire and just carried on at Horsham. That period gave me a huge amount of conR- dence and helped proved to myself that I was good enough.
Highs: The summer of 2004. Winning the championship with Warwickshire was fantastic. It was no Quke - we played good cricket all summer long. And it was brilliant from a personal point of view as well. Apart from that Rrst double-century against Sussex at Horsham I hit a century in each innings against Lancashire at Old Trafford.
Lows: You only have to go back a few weeks for that. I was getting quite a bit of stick and times were pretty hard. It was the Rrst time in 18 months that I'd had a series where I hadn't scored the runs I should have and I knew the competition for places was growing. I tried to keep believing in myself but it's quite tough to deal with. I don't really read the papers but you can't help but hear about what people are saying.
I've very mixed emotions about the summer of 2005 too. I was part of a team that won the Ashes, which was amazing, but I knew I hadn't scored the runs I should have done. I was only 22 and knew it was part of my learning experience but I did feel I could have contributed more.
Limited-overs cricket: I guess I've a few questions left to answer in limited-overs cricket. …