Bell's a cut above the rest for England


Cricket:Ian Bell defied a broken jaw and a nasty cut to his chin to rise to the challenge of replacing Kevin Pietersen as his second one-day international hundred underpinned England’s 114-run win over West Indies in Southampton.

Bell (126) made the same score — unbeaten last time — as in his only previous hundred, on this same ground five years ago, in a total of 288 for six at the Ageas Bowl.

West Indies’ own substitute opener Dwayne Smith (56) then gave England plenty to think about, pulling his second six, off Stuart Broad, to go with six fours and bringing up his 50 in only 38 balls, but his power-packed team-mates failed to deliver, bowled out for 172 with more than 14 overs unused.

Bell, opening for the first time since last year’s World Cup, produced a chanceless innings of trademark timing and placement after England were put in under cloudy skies.

On a very good batting surface, by the time Bell mistimed an attempted ‘paddle’ at a slow full-toss from Dwayne Bravo, to loop a simple catch and become wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin’s fourth victim of the day, England were in prime position to attack the last 10 overs.

The only complicating factor was that five wickets were down already, but Craig Kieswetter and the tail made sure that dwindling resource did not compromise the addition of 68 more runs.

Bell was passed fit, for his first assignment as the retired Pietersen’s successor at the top of the order, having yesterday edged a pull into his face in indoor practice, a mishap which resulted in 10 stitches and an X-ray on his jawbone.

He showed no ill-effects, in a match minus West Indies’ destructive opener Chris Gayle, who missed out with a shin injury.

England were almost instantly without their captain and Bell’s opening partner Alastair Cook, but a second-wicket stand of 108 in 20 overs put them in good shape.

Cook departed to the third ball of the match, from Ravi Rampaul, pushing forward and edging a modicum of movement behind.

Number three Jonathan Trott was first to find the boundary, clipping Andre Russell handsomely off his toes from the final ball of the fourth over. Then in Russell’s next, Bell was ready to put his stamp on proceedings.

A memorable six, struck high over long-off from a length ball, was followed by three fours in five balls.

Bell therefore went from four to 22 in an over, and Darren Sammy had to start swapping and changing his many bowling options.

Bell eased past his 50, on this huge playing area, with a high-class four off the back foot through the off-side off Sunil Narine, before doubling his tally of career ODI hundreds, in his 109th match.

He lost Trott and Ravi Bopara in near identical fashion, both edging behind as they tried to cut the off-spin of Narine and then Marlon Samuels.

Bell ensured an opener reached three figures in each of England’s last five ODI innings, only to lose Eoin Morgan, playing on to Samuels at the start of the batting powerplay, and then go himself at the end of it.

West Indies opener Lendl Simmons chopped James Anderson down on to his stumps. But Smith, in place of Gayle, took a huge pulled six and two fours from one Steve Finn over to give the tourists’ run chase early momentum in a half-century stand with Ramdin.

After Tim Bresnan (four for 34) eliminated the second-wicket pair in the space of five balls, however, Smith edging a very short ball behind as he aimed to pull again and Ramdin lbw to one that nipped in slightly off the seam, Finn hit Bravo in front too.

Kieron Pollard cut Stuart Broad hard to point, where Morgan took a flying catch away to his left, and in the absence of specialist batsman Darren Bravo, who injured his groin in the field, from 127 for five the West Indies’ remaining power hitters had far too much to do.

They returned from an hour-long rain break, with a revised target of 287 in 25 overs still available,

and after Samuels fell to a chip to midwicket, West Indies’ miserable day was soon complete as they lost their last nine wickets for 77 runs.