CRICKET: Captain Bell on Bears’ big game with Outlaws

Bears' captain Ian Bell
Bears' captain Ian Bell

One more win needed for place in quarter-finals

Ian Bell is looking forward to leading Birmingham Bears into action against Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston tomorrow (Friday) when two of the NatWestT20Blast big-hitters go toe-to-toe.

A towering clash is promised between two of the North Group’s top three sides with the second-placed Outlaws already sure of qualification for the quarter-finals and the Bears, in third, needing to win one of their last two games to be sure of joining them.

Birmingham captain Bell knows that his team, looking to bounce back from a bruising 74-run defeat to Northants Steelbacks on Tuesday, will have to be on top form to bank that win tomorrow.

But then Bell asserts that in county cricket these days you have to play well to win any game.

The Bears skipper is currently into his first sustained spell in county cricket for more than a decade after representing England in 118 Tests - a number to which he still passionately wants to add.

And leading his team in all formats has reminded the 34-year-old of the high quality in county cricket - and the strength in depth.

“All credit to county cricket at the moment,” Bell said. “A lot has been said about the county game and some people say its mediocre but that’s not the case.

“Coming back into it from international cricket has just reminded me how good it is. From playing in the championship and limited-overs formats this season I can say the standard is a really high level. In the championship and the NatWestT20Blast there are no easy games and that’s really good.”

Bell will take his Birmingham into action against Notts tomorrow desperate to halt the spate of batting collapses which has kept them waiting to clinch a place in the Blast quarter-finals. In three of the last four games, against Yorkshire Vikings, Worcestershire Rapids and the Steelbacks, a dramatic collapse has cost them dear.

It is an issue the Bears need to sort out because, as Bell acknowledges, in T20 as much as any format every opponent poses a threat.

“We are a big club and try to win all formats which can sometimes be difficult,” he said. “But a lot of clubs put a lot of investment into T20 so whether you go to a club which is in Div One or Two in the championship you know they can be a very, very good T20 side.”

Meanwhile, in one area of Bell’s captaincy there is significant room for improvement. He has won only six of 18 tosses in the Specsavers County Championsip and NatWestT20Blast this season with a particularly poor record in the championship in which he has just one contested toss.

It is an area of his game on which serious work is needed.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Bell said. “They say these things even themselves out and hopefully that will start to happen soon but, as it stands, I must be the worst tosser that the club has ever had.”

Tickets for Birmingham Bears final home NatWest T20 Blast group game against Notts Outlaws this coming Friday are available in advance at £19 for adults (£23 on the day) and FREE for under 16s, when accompanied by an adult.

Visit www.birminghambears.com/tickets or call the Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 1902 to purchase.