Belly was text­book-pure, very easy on the eye and made bat­ting look sim­ple

Michael Vaughan  One of Eng­land’s most tal­ented play­ers of re­cent times is set for re­tire­ment as the 2005 guys all depart

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket -

It is a shame there will be no sup­port­ers at War­wick­shire to give Ian Bell a warm send-off when the sea­son ends, be­cause he will be re­mem­bered as one of Eng­land’s great bats­men of the 21st cen­tury.

I re­mem­ber giv­ing him his Eng­land cap against West Indies in 2004, and I was at the other end when he first took guard in a Test. We all knew he had huge nat­u­ral tal­ent. He was al­ready one of the best tech­ni­cians of the English game and beau­ti­ful to watch.

I al­ways felt that Bell was an ex­am­ple of just how dif­fi­cult it is to be suc­cess­ful at the high­est level of pro­fes­sional sport. He had all this nat­u­ral tal­ent and a won­der­ful tech­nique, but it was prob­a­bly only in the 2013 Ashes se­ries, when he scored three hun­dreds, that I felt he was to­tally com­fort­able in his own mind and with his own game.

For some­one with so much abil­ity and tal­ent, I found it amaz­ing how much con­fi­dence you al­ways had to give him. He was one of those play­ers you had to con­tin­u­ally re­mind him of how good he was and his importance to the team.

No­body re­ally re­mem­bers that 2013 se­ries partly be­cause Bell was not a big char­ac­ter like Kevin Pi­etersen or An­drew Flintoff. If it had been one of those two who dom­i­nated that Ashes then we would all still be talk­ing about it.

He was a chirpy char­ac­ter in the dress­ing room, al­ways quite cheeky, which I liked in a player. He had a re­mark­able ca­reer, too, when you think about 22 Test hun­dreds, third be­hind Alas­tair Cook and Pi­etersen, play­ing over 100 Tests and win­ning five Ashes se­ries.

In 2005, he was young, but very much part of our plans for the fu­ture. We wanted to pick play­ers who had no bag­gage from pre­vi­ous de­feats against

Aus­tralia and he was se­lected ahead of guys who per­haps had a stronger claim to a place. Gra­ham Thorpe may have car­ried on for an­other se­ries had we picked him and Mark Ram­prakash was scor­ing a lot of runs in county cricket.

So, Bell was prob­a­bly not part of our best bat­ting line-up, but we wanted a young, fresh men­tal­ity and he was a ma­jor part of that. He did not light up the se­ries, but he took some good catches, scored a cou­ple of 50s at Old Traf­ford, and when you look at his whole ca­reer, I won­der how valu­able that ex­pe­ri­ence was for him.

To play in that kind of pres­surised se­ries at such a young age, and to be around the cel­e­bra­tions and emo­tions of it all, must have been a big thing for him. When Eng­land were con­sis­tently suc­cess­ful from 2009 to 2015, char­ac­ters such as Bell, Pi­etersen and An­drew Strauss had been part of that 2005 vic­tory. That first hur­dle of beat­ing

His cover drive was up there with the best of them. You want ev­ery­one to bat like him

Aus­tralia in 2005 was a big thing for them and they took that men­tal­ity into the rest of their ca­reers. He was never con­sid­ered cap­taincy ma­te­rial. I never saw him as a leader of men apart from with his tech­nique. There are some who are just out­stand­ing play­ers and who lead with per­for­mance and he was one of those crick­eters.

He did not need the ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity of wor­ry­ing about oth­ers. Belly was a bit vul­ner­a­ble at times and did not al­ways deal with crit­i­cism bril­liantly, but he was not the only one like that. Tech­ni­cally, he was su­perb. His cover drive was up there with the best. If par­ents want their boys and girls to be bats­men, then they should just look at Bell’s tech­nique. You want ev­ery­one to bat like him. He was text­book-pure, very easy on the eye and made bat­ting look sim­ple when he was at his best. If he uses all his ex­pe­ri­ence from his play­ing days, and re­alises coach­ing re­quires a dif­fer­ent skill-set, then he may be valu­able to the fu­ture English game.

Is it sad the 2005 guys are all re­tired now? No. Our time has gone. Time to move on.

End of an era: Ian Bell will call time on his su­perb ca­reer at the age of 38

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