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Ian Bell - Cricket: Ian Bell on England's T20 squad and the South Africa Test series

The T20 squad has been announced, with Jason Roy dropped and Alex Hales set for a recall. I think he’s has lost form at the wrong time, and with the World Cups you always do get one or two get out of form at the wrong time.

I don’t think that’s the end of him by any means, but I think when you’re going into that short format tournament it’s important to try and pick the guys who are in form; you can’t go two or three games in with somebody who is out of form.

Jonny Bairstow picking up a freak injury, isn’t ideal because he’s in a massive purple patch, probably the best in his career, so that one probably hurts a lot more at the moment than Roy does.

But we will see the return of Hales, who was in the wilderness under Eoin Morgan and it seemed there was no way back at all. You have to look at what he’s done over the last three years in franchise cricket – he’s still one of the top performers.

For the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash he’s still doing well in those conditions. It makes a lot of sense when you’re going into a World Cup to pick a guy who knows the conditions well and has been playing pretty consistently in the short format for a long time.

You’d hope the any of the things in the past are well behind him, he’s matured a bit and we’ll see him add value to the team.

Another three-day Test

For the second time in the series, we’ve had a Test wrapped up inside three days. It’s great if you’re winning it, but there are meetings when you lose in three days!

If you look at both line-ups, bar Joe Root and Ben Stokes, they’re very light batting units, and there are world-class bowlers on both sides, and I don’t see that changing much in the next Test; whoever stands up best to that will likely go on and win it.

South Africa will look back maybe overthinking the situation in playing an extra spinner.

When you’ve just won a Test match, playing the same XI can be a good thing, having that continuity, but if you don’t get runs on the board, a spinner’s irrelevant anyway.

I was really interested that they left the left-armer in Marco Jansen out, especially with his batting as well, I thought that was quite a surprise, and I think they’ll now go back to the same XI they had at Lord’s.

Crawley consistency needed

It was great to see a better performance from Zak Crawley. I’ve got a lot of admiration for the way he’s been backed, and as a player you want your coaches to give you more games rather than less, but I still think Zak needs to score hundreds and go on a really big run to cement himself, same with Alex Lees really.

What he did in that Test match is what you want from a Test match opener; he faces loads of balls, he left the ball amazingly well and set up the platform for Stokes and Foakes to score runs down the back end and that’s the whole point.

We just need more consistency out of Zak, and if we can get that then great, but he’s still under pressure and still needs a big score, so there’s a long way to go yet.

Anderson and Broad still the kings

We saw Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad take 10 wickets in the second Test against South Africa, and I think they probably look back at being dropped for the West Indies series at the start of the year as a bit of a blessing in disguise because it showed a glimpse of what’s to come.

Not to say the players we have in Ollie Robinson, Matt Potts, Chris Woakes, Chris Wood and these guys won’t be a good bowling attack, they just won’t be a Broad and Anderson.

They’re still our two best bowlers and they’re not going to go forever so we’ve got to make the most of them while they are there.

Harry Brook called up

After Jonny Bairstow’s freak golf injury, Harry Brook has been called up and he’s one of our most talented young players who was in red-hot form at the start of the year.

There was talking of him starting the first game, and when you’re in form you want to play, but unfortunately for Harry, he’s had to carry drinks, he’s been in and out of squads, he’s played The Hundred, so he’s not played as much as when he was in that real purple patch.

But he deserves his opportunity, he’s the best young batter we’ve got in the country, he’s got good technique, and hopefully he does the job. 

Place for The Hundred

We’ve wrapped up another excellent iteration of The Hundred, and congratulations to the Trent Rockets and Oval Invincibles men’s and women’s teams on their respective victories.

While I appreciate the competition divides opinion amongst some, I for one lean very much the other way.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have coached the Birmingham Phoenix for the past two years and the atmosphere at the matches, even on Sunday or Monday nights, has been electric.

Seeing 15,000+ in attendance to watch the women’s matches has been fantastic and the quality of cricket has matched its support.

Grounds have been packed out and there’s been international-style atmospheres consistently at Edgbaston.

It was a shame some injuries and competition clashes meant some players didn’t play the whole tournament, but taking my team, the Phoenix as my example, it was so exciting to turn up to training to see the calibre of players such as Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Kane Richardson and Matthew Wade.

They’re four international players who I would happily pay my money to watch. And you’ve got young players like Henry Brookes, and he’s spending time with Kane Richardson day in, day out and learning the trade of being an international bowler. You can’t beat that kind of experience. Same with Dan Mousely, another fine young player with the Phoenix, and he’s training alongside the likes of Mo [Ali] and Liam [Livingstone]. It’ll only benefit those guys and ultimately our national side.

Over time we need to find a way of giving the County Championship the attention it deserves, but it’s been so pleasing to see so many fans attending domestic cricket and it being showcased on free-to-air TV. More please.


 

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