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International Cricket: Ian Bell's England thoughts ahead of West Indies tour

It’s been a hectic week for English cricket, losing the T20 series to West Indies before Ashley Giles and Chris Silverwood lost their jobs, and after all the speculation, Paul Collingwood has been named head coach on an interim basis.

Obviously, it’s very disappointing for someone like Silverwood to lose his role, he is a really good man and an excellent coach but I suppose it’s part of the business as a coach especially with England. It’s a results business.

When you have been in the job a while and there’s an Ashes that year, a lot does depend on that. I’ve seen it through my career, with a lot of great coaches like Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower. Certainly, when you lose heavily in Australia that seems to be the end of a cycle and everything gets very emotional in the news.

It’s good that Collingwood gets the opportunity, he is obviously a great coach who’s very knowledgeable and knows the England set up well.

He has relationships with Stokes and Root so that will make the transition easier for this tour. Long-term, I’m interested to see what the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) do as there seem to be a lot of names being touted such as Justin Langer and Gary Kirsten.

It was a real shock for me to see both Stuart Broad and James Anderson left out of the Test squad. It’s a big call not to have them on this tour. We knew they would eventually be phased out as all great players are; however, I was shocked it was like this.

To play over 150 Test matches as a bowler is an incredible achievement. I imagine they will be incredibly frustrated and hurt but I hope especially from the fans' standpoint that we get to see them again in an England shirt. They deserve that much.

The most important thing for English cricket now is making the decisions to get Test cricket going back in the right direction. It’s been a tough 12 months. For me it’s important to get back to winning games and dominating at home. We know that winning away from home is always tough, even for the best English teams it was never easy to win away from home.

But to get ourselves back, we’ve got to be winning all those series at home whether that’s against India, Australia, New Zealand, we should be winning. That’ll be the priority moving forward.

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The recent West Indies T20 trip was tough, with many players missing who were involved in the Ashes. However, it was a good opportunity to see the T20 next-in-line players. I feel English cricket over all formats, T20 and 50-over cricket, is in a good place.

There are a lot of players involved in the Big Bash that are doing very well and don’t even come close to the England side. The depth that we have now for T20 is especially high, but it was disappointing to lose.

However, it was nice to see the West Indies bounce back after a disappointing T20 World Cup. They have gone through a golden generation, having had some of the best T20 players for a long time. They have now moved on from some big names and players, so it’s nice to see a strong West Indies side do that.

From an English perspective, it was good to see some young players like Tom Banton come back. He burst onto the scene a few years ago and had a bit of a dip in form but it was good to see him playing.

The concern at the minute is death bowling, watching Jofra Archer bowl that super over in that World Cup win, it is an area that we’ve been missing.

Every time he does not play, the death bowling in particular looks our area of concern under pressure. Our batting is so strong, spin looks fantastic with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in there and we have Liam Livingstone who can do both so that’s very nicely balanced.

The place for concern is just those last three or four overs. Statistically we are one of the worst in terms of economy rates at the back end. I am sure Eoin Morgan knows that; he is an excellent leader so he would have identified that. Come the World Cup, which will be different conditions, much bigger boundaries and slightly different tactically than the Caribbean or subcontinents, they will be ready.

What we see from Moeen Ali as a player is pure natural ability, a fearlessness to go after the bowler. He does cop his fair bit of criticism at times but that’s the way he plays and that’s why he is special to watch. Sometimes he gets it wrong but when he gets it right, it’s incredible.

He is bowling again with some nice match-ups, bowling to left-handers he’s very good and having worked with him in the Hundred, tactically he thinks about the game in the right way. He is a positive leader in the group and it is great to see him playing good cricket.

There is talk about death bowling involving Chris Jordan because he has played around the world in all the best leagues. Bowling death is difficult to do, you could count the amount of elite death bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah on one hand. There’s not a lot of guys who can run in and do that, I think Jofra Archer is one of those guys who’s top end at doing that and Chris Jordan.

For me, it’s not about getting it wrong at the death which obviously everyone looks at, it’s about the attitude. One thing I love about Chris Jordan is that he will put his hand up to do anything for the team.

I have played with many players who shy away from bowling those tough overs in the back end. They like to bowl a nice comfortable over out of a power play at the start or middle. But you actually want guys in your team who are willing to put themselves out there.
 
Yes they will get it wrong sometimes and people will talk about them losing the game but you want more players like Chris Jordan who are willing to put their hand up in the hard situations to bowl the tough overs.

The more of those people you have, the better your team is. I would never blame anyone at the back end of an innings. Having the attitude to take on a game and try to win it for your country, franchise or T20 team is what’s important.

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