CRICKET: Century and world record for in-form Bell

Ian Bell speaking at Rugby Sports awards earlier this year
Ian Bell speaking at Rugby Sports awards earlier this year

Innings inspired by words of great Sri Lankan batsman

Warwickshire cricketer Ian Bell scored his maiden Vitality Blast century on Friday - and set a new world record.

Bell’s brilliant 131 from 62 balls against Northants - which included 11 fours and seven sixes - ranks among the great T20 innings and arrived in a world record third-wicket stand for the format - 171 from 85 balls with Adam Hose.

The Dunchurch batsman’s white-ball form has been impressive all season. He averaged 56.50 in the Royal London Cup and has now scored 287 runs in T20 at an average of 71.75 with a strike-rate of 157.69.

The former Princethorpe College student, who was guest speaker at Rugby’s Sports Awards in February, admits he has approached his batting differently this year - and also took on board some recent thoughts from great Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara, a former Bears ace.

“I have tried to be more aggressive this year, which obviously makes you a little bit more dangerous,” he said. “But I was listening to Kumar commentating last week and he talked about Twenty20 and said that, as a batsman, you’ve got longer than you think.

“So against Northants, when we were two down for not many chasing 231, I said to Hosey if we just keep our shape and keep control then we can still take this game a long way.

“That’s what we did and it reached the stage where you could feel the pressure shift onto Northants.

“It was a shame that we didn’t quite get over the line, but at the halfway point in the game we knew we were chasing 231 and it was a tough ask. To tie the game was a really good effort and as a batting unit we have scored 200-plus in successive games now so that gives us a bit of confidence.”

Bell and Hose’s 171 surpassed the 163 set by Suresh Raina and Akshdeep Nath for Uttar Pradesh against Bengal at Kolkata in January.

“It’s fantastic to be part of a world record,” Bell, 36, added. “I feel like I have been playing well this year and you are always striving to get it spot on out there in the middle when it really matters and I felt that most things I tried came off.

“We also gave a lot of people a lot of entertainment and hopefully there were a lot of youngsters watching who will look at that and want to come back in the future and play for Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears.”