Bell re­lin­quishes Bears cap­taincy to fo­cus on bat­ting

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Seth Fran­cis

FORMER Eng­land bats­man Ian Bell will turn his full at­ten­tion to bat­ting hav­ing stepped down as War­wick­shire cap­tain.

Bell, who last played for Eng­land in Novem­ber 2015, was named skip­per ahead of last sea­son and led the county to the One-Day Cup last Septem­ber.

But, less than a year later, War­wick­shire now sit bot­tom of County Cham­pi­onship Di­vi­sion One, though they have pro­gressed to the T20 Blast quar­ter-fi­nals, where they will face Sur­rey this evening.

Bell is yet to score a cen­tury in the Cham­pi­onship this sum­mer, in­deed his last came in April 2016, and Jonathan Trott will take over as cap­tain for the four-day game. Grant El­liott is ex­pected to take the reins at the Oval to­day.

Bell said: “This is the right time for me to stand down. As a se­nior player, I will sup­port the team in all ways pos­si­ble and I be­lieve that our squad has very ex­cit­ing times ahead.

“It’s been an ab­so­lute hon­our to lead my home county and my de­ci­sion to stand down is some­thing that I have thought long and hard about over a pe­riod of weeks.”

Bell has played in 118 Tests for Eng­land as well as 161 one­day in­ter­na­tion­als and eight T20 matches, but has scored just 345 runs from 14 in­nings in this year’s County Cham­pi­onship, at an av­er­age of 24.64.

He has tasted suc­cess in the shorter for­mats, win­ning the most re­cent edi­tion of the Big Bash with Perth Scorchers.

Ash­ley Giles, sport di­rec­tor at War­wick­shire, said:“Ian and I have spo­ken reg­u­larly through­out the sea­son and he made the de­ci­sion to stand down as skip­per fol­low­ing our County Cham­pi­onship win over Mid­dle­sex two weeks ago.

“The team has gone through a trans­for­ma­tion pe­riod and Ian has been in­stru­men­tal dur­ing this time, lead­ing the team to a tro­phy at the end of 2016 and help­ing bring through sev­eral of our younger play­ers in re­cent months, dur­ing a dif­fi­cult pe­riod.

“It’s very brave of Ian to make this de­ci­sion, but one that we fully re­spect. Hav­ing him fo­cused solely on scor­ing runs for War­wick­shire and Birm­ing­ham Bears is a huge as­set to the club as we bid to reach a third Fi­nals Day in four years and aim to build on our Cham­pi­onship vic­tory at Lord’s.”

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