Determined to bring further success to county
Ian Bell is setting the bar high for his second season as Warwickshire captain - and will make no excuses for “nagging” his players in the quest to bring further success to the county.
The former Princethorpe College student’s first season as Bears skipper last year was a mixed bag. Warwickshire were comfortably the team of the year in 50-over cricket, winning the Royal London Cup by crushing Surrey in the final at Lord’s to crown an increasingly impressive 50-over campaign.
The other two formats brought under-achievement though, with failure to escape the NatWestT20Blast group and inconsistency in the Specsavers County Championship which sent them into the last game still not safe from relegation. An emphatic victory at home to Lancashire secured their status and, at the same time, showed the quality that had surfaced too fleetingly in four-day cricket in the preceding months.
Bell, from Dunchurch, admits that he learned plenty about both himself and the job from his first season as captain and first full season back in county cricket after a decade mostly away with England.
And now he intends to get his team kicking on again - by means of nagging if necessary.
“The standards I set the guys will be high,” he said. “So even though I might nag them and push them I will be doing it because I want to raise the bar. I will push them as hard as I possibly can.
“We want guys who are desperate to play for Warwickshire and who want to go out there and deliver every single day. It’s not just a case of what they produce in numbers because scoring runs and taking wickets is only part of it. You can’t judge people only on that outcome.
“You judge people on how they prepare, how consistent they are in their behaviours away from the game and everything they do on and off the field; how much they give to the team.
“We are lucky here at Warwickshire to have really talented cricketers but who also have a great attitude. That’s why I am really excited about this season.”
Bell still harbours a deep desire to add to his 118 Test match appearances for England and if he scores big runs early in the season he will be right back in the selectorial mix.
But he is no less fired-up by the challenge of bringing success to the county of which he dreamed of being captain ever since his earliest days in the youth system aged 11.
Thirty-five next month, Bell feels he has plenty of fuel left in the tank. And even if the coveted England recall does not come, there is plenty he still wants to achieve with his county.
“I desperately want to get back playing for England but also love playing for Warwickshire and I want to do that as long as I can,” he said. “Hopefully into my early forties if my body’s still good. I feel like I am batting well enough in all formats.
“Individually, I want to enjoy my cricket but also want to pass on whatever help and information to the young guys here. I want the guys to enjoy their cricket and Warwickshire to be a place that other teams look at and admire and think ‘those guys do it well, they love playing for Warwickshire.’
“Above all I want Warwickshire to be successful.”