Bell's unconventional love triangle

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Old 22-Mar-2011
Bell's unconventional love triangle

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New Delhi: Ian Bell has been wedded to the England cricket team since the beginning of November, since then he has played every game for them.

He gets married properly, to fiancee Chantal, four days after the World Cup final, but his "first wife" has a few more demands on him before that, starting with Saturday's quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Logic would suggest that playing an Asian side at home, after India's win against West Indies on Sunday ensured England finished third in their group, would be the least welcome option.

However, Andrew Strauss's team won an entire one-day series in Sri Lanka back in 2007, and Bell says he is relishing the prospect.

"I'm very excited. As a group that's the one place we would quite like to go to be honest. It's a good place and we had a bit of success there from the last one-day tour," Bell said.

"When you get to a quarter-final and come up against a confident side it is tough whether it's Pakistan in Dhaka or Sri Lanka in Colombo, but I'm very happy it's the latter."

Misplaced enthusiasm

Bell's enthusiasm appears slightly misplaced, at least at the forbidding R Premadasa Stadium, where Sri Lanka play their one-day matches in Colombo.

In his two matches there against Sri Lanka he managed 25 in England's sole victory and 11. That England success was one of the rare occasions a side batting second has won there under floodlights.

There was another victory, against Zimbabwe in the 2002 Champions Trophy, but a record that so far stands at played six and lost four hardly supports his confidence.

"It will be tough. Sri Lanka are as good as any team in the world at the moment." he conceded.

"Having played with Kumar Sangakkara at Warwickshire I have seen the quality of him. Mahela Jayawardene is also good and there are other fine players and experienced leaders there. I guess in the quarter-finals of a World Cup you are going to come up against the best teams and it is up to us to put together the performances now."

England have blown hot and cold in this tournament and there is the suspicion they are exhausted after an emotional winter in Australia.

Fatigue factor

Bell has played in every game, a total of 60 days cricket most of it high intensity, with sapping travel thrown in. Surely fatigue is the dominant factor?

"No, I don't think so," said Bell.

"The quarter-final of a World Cup doesn't come around very often and we have to be up for it. It has been a long winter but by the time we turn up for the quarter-final we will be ready to give everything," he added.

"You saw against the West Indies how desperate we are to win and that is a really good sign. It's not what has gone that matters, it is what is to come that we focus on, though there is no point looking too far ahead," he said.

"We did that well in the Ashes. We have three games to win it so that looks quite nice, but we don't need to look beyond Sri Lanka."

Bell needs to be dominant though, there is still the suggestion he is uncertain of his worth. Having tried just about every spot between one and seven in the order, he is England's utility batsman, though you wonder whether that is a compliment to his versatility or a sign that he has never really nailed down any one role.

"I've not really had a long run at any position for a while," said Bell. "I want to nail the number four spot but if I got the opportunity to open again I would be excited about that as well. It's not my decision, but I will do whatever I can for this team. At the moment my skills of playing spin have kept me in the middle order but I enjoy opening as well."

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