It could be said that Ian Bell has enjoyed a pretty good summer in an England shirt, but that would be a gross understatement.
The once-maligned player who struggled to get the best out of his prodigious ability at the top level has been transformed into a run-making machine.
This summer alone, Bell has averaged 119.28 in seven matches and 10 innings. In that time he has racked up a staggering 835 runs with four centuries and two 50s.
Put simply, Bell has established himself as the most in-form batsman in the world at present, and perhaps the classiest stroke-maker in the game right now.
The Warwickshire man obliterated Sri Lanka with two centuries, two 50s and a frankly scandalously good average of 331.00.
With many high-achieving batsmen, the statistics flatter: Bell is not of this breed, given that the auxillary current number three makes even a nurdle into the leg side look wonderfully attractive.
Indeed, when Bell times the pants off a drive through extra cover with a hold-the-pose follow-through and a call to his partner simply of 'Don't bother moving for that, buddy!' one realises that this is a very special batsman we are all watching.
In an era when many batsmen look to bunt the ball as hard as possible, stand outside their crease and wield epically heavy railway sleepers, Bell represents a refreshing contrast.
In this series, Bell followed a 45 at Lord's with a swashbuckling 159 at Trent Bridge, then topped it all off with the truly remarkable, chanceless 235 at The Oval.
Against Sri Lanka, he incurred the wrath of the tourists' coach Stuart Law, who called him a 'massive pain in the backside' as he notched up scores of 103*, 52, 57* and 119* to infuriate the dumbfounded opposition.
Bell had previously plundered four double tons in
domestic cricket, but this was his first for England, and boy did he celebrate it alright.
The number three jumped up and down on the spot, repeatedly punched the air with relish and roared with delight after drilling a fierce drive through extra cover for four with typical panache. It certainly was a moment to savour.
There are times when Bell just never looks like getting out: his innings over the last two days has been one such example.
While India's bowling was drab, slugglish and entirely devoid of ideas, Bell simply sauntered along, unfurling his usual repertoire of expansive strokes and looking a class above.
Bell deserves all the plaudits he is getting right now, and the main reason is this: his batting not only looks good, but is also producing quite staggeringly prolific results.
Cowers cannot think of a batsman in world cricket that is playing better than Bell at the moment, and the remarkable thing is that he is only normally England's number five.
TALKING POINT OF THE
DAY: England named a development
squad to face Ireland in Dublin next week, with Irishman Eoin Morgan captaining
the side in his old backyard.
England squad to face Ireland: Eoin
Morgan (capt), Jonathan Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Jade Dernbach,
Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Graham Onions, Samit Patel, Ben Stokes, James
Taylor, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes
What do you make of the
squad and should Morgan be the captain? Post your views below...
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: Eoin Morgan - an
Irishman with a Welsh name playing for England. Is his favourite tipple Scotch?
TWEET OF THE DAY: Who
says India's attack has been ineffective in this series? Not one of the three
double centurions have been allowed to make a triple ton. (@gauravcnnibn)
STATS OF THE DAY: This was England's
third 500-plus score in the series. On only one previous occasion (The Ashes,
2010-11) have they scored more 500-plus scores (four) in a series. It was also the first time since 1938 that England have had three double-centuries in the same series.
SNAP OF THE DAY: Bell acknowledges a packed Oval crowd with his pink bat grip catching everyone's eye. The number three celebrated with a confidence which was not apparent earlier in his international career. Now he knows that he belongs.
- Ian Bell