Ian Bell has expressed his pride at finally fulfilling a childhood dream ahead of his 100th Test match at Headingley this week.
Bell, who made his debut in 2004 against the West Indies at The Oval, has suffered from his ups and downs in an England shirt but returns a stronger player than ever and now finds himself on the verge of a major landmark for his country.
Bell said: “To have actually done what you want to as a kid that’s what I’ve played the game for – to play as long as I could for England and to get there is an incredible feeling.
“It’s great individually to get to 100 test matches but we’ve got a series to win here. It was a really good game of cricket at Lords the other day and it’s poised perfectly, it would be a great way for me to get 100 test matches and win the series at Headingley so that’s the goal for this week.
“I want to contribute again with the bat and get as many runs as I can as the batting unit did really well last week. It’s an exciting week but the win is the important thing.”
The Warwickshire batsman was famously dropped in 2009 on a tour of the West Indies, and Bell admits that he was forced to question where he was going in his career.
“There were times when I doubted it there’s no doubt in 2009 when I got left out in the winter in West Indies I didn’t think I’d get close to that and you ask questions about yourself but in the last 12 months certainly in terms of my batting I’ve felt as well as I have done at any stage of my career.
England – Class of 2014
Hundred in hundredth match
MC Cowdrey 104 England v Australia Birmingham 11 Jul 1968
Javed Miandad 145 Pakistan v India Lahore 1 Dec 1989
CG Greenidge 149 West Indies v England St John’s 12 Apr 1990
AJ Stewart 105 England v West Indies Manchester 3 Aug 2000
Inzamam-ul-Haq 184 Pakistan v India Bangalore 24 Mar 2005
RT Ponting 120 Australia v South Africa Sydney 2 Jan 2006
RT Ponting 143* Australia v South Africa Sydney 2 Jan 2006
GC Smith 131 South Africa v England The Oval 19 Jul 2012