Why going back to Bell is the right call for England’s winter tour
After handing James Vince two Test series and an entire summer to cement his place in England’s middle order, it’s time to move on.
The Hampshire batsman struggled in his seven matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, scoring 212 runs and failing to reach 50. As a result he’s expected to be omitted from the Three Lions squad to tour Bangladesh and India this winter.
According to the Guardian’s Ali Martin, the 25-year-old’s spot could get handed back to Ian Bell, who hasn’t played Test cricket since last November.
At 34, the Warwickshire skipper can’t be considered a progressive pick, especially when head coach Trevor Bayliss has preferred to lean on younger options since being installed in the setup.
However, Bell’s inclusion in the touring party is absolutely the right call to make given the current state of the squad.
At times both Bayliss and Alastair Cook have chastised the naivety of England’s young guns in the longest form of the game.
Heading to Asia to play in some of the toughest conditions around is likely to accelerate a number of the squad’s development, but there is a case to be made that an experienced head to help guide that improvement is vital.
Having Bell around to ease the burden on Cook is essential. After all, the right-hander is the third-leading run scorer in the sub-continent in England’s history, behind the current captain and Kevin Pietersen.
He has also played more Tests in Asia than any other Englishman and has three centuries and nine 50s to his name in those conditions.
Modest returns in this year’s County Championship means his potential inclusion will be divisive, but as a member of a touring squad for a gruelling seven-Test schedule his selection has merit.
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