Bell expects to lose Test place despite Lord's hundred
by AFP

Ground:Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:IR Bell, A Flintoff
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 15th July 2006


England batsman Ian Bell admitted he expects to lose his place in the team despite scoring a chanceless hundred in the first Test against Pakistan here at Lord's.


The Warwickshire strokemaker was 100 not out when England declared on 528 for nine on the second day Friday, but was realistic about his role, having only been called in to replace injured all-rounder Andrew Flintoff - who England hope will captain them in their Ashes defence in Australia later this year.


"I saw myself coming in just for this Test match because when Freddie (Flintoff) is fit he plays," said the 24-year-old Bell.


"I've filled his position and I'm very happy that I've shown people I can play at this level."


The compact right-hander explained he expects to be dropped for the second Test, due to start at Flintoff's Old Trafford home ground in Manchester on July 27, despite his impressive knock.


"It will be unusual but I don't see it as a particularly difficult decision," Bell explained as he contemplated the prospect of becoming the first England batsman since Graeme Hick in 1998 to be axed one match after scoring a Test hundred.


Bell brought up his third Test century with a neatly punched drive through mid-wicket, a shot that was typical of his measured 168-ball innings which included nine fours and lasted 254 minutes.


He scored his first Test century -- and his highest to date -- against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street in June 2005, ending on 162 not out, while his second hundred (115) came against Pakistan in Faisalabad late last year.


"I really enjoyed going out there and getting a hundred at Lord's and I would love to do it again," said Bell.


"I want to succeed at this level and play hard but I have to learn not to put too much pressure on myself to score runs and just go out there and enjoy it."


Bell added he felt he had enhanced his chances of getting into the England squad for the Ashes series.


"It's quite a distance away and I didn't go into this match thinking about it," he explained.


"But I've not done myself any harm by going out and getting a hundred."


Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was pleased with his side's improved performance on the second day at Lord's, after they dropped five catches the previous day in a poor fielding display.


"It was very promising," said the former Warwickshire and South Africa coach. "We took six wickets for 219 today (Friday) so it was a much better performance.


"Yesterday (Thursday) I felt we bowled both sides of the pitch, we didn't make use of it and we dropped some catches but today we did much better."


Woolmer was impressed with Bell's hundred and explained he had exerted some influence on the young England player earlier in his career.


"I'm not going to take a lot of credit but I brought him into the side at Warwickshire in 2000, I kept him at number three in the season when he didn't do very well and took a lot of criticism," the ex-England batsman explained.


"He is a fantastic timer of the ball and a good young cricketer of the future."


Woolmer refused to concede that Pakistan's chances in the Test were slipping away, finishing the day as they did on 66 for three, with their first three batsmen back in the pavilion.


"There is a lot of cricket left in this Test match with three days to go," argued Woolmer.


"There are various permutations that can play out and hopefully we play a bit better and can make things work in our favour."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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