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Bell to play hundredth Test Match at Headingley

— 18 June 2014

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.

  • “2009 was a turning point for me after that West Indies trip and I started to score runs when I really needed to for the team and that’s what I’ve tried desperately hard to do and a massive turning point for me.”

    Bell has a patchy record in Leeds, with just one hundred in Test cricket but after scoring 97 early in the season for his county he is optimistic that the pitch will suit this new England side after they were frustrated by an unresponsive wicket at Lords.

    Speaking about the Headingley pitch that he played on in early May, Bell said: “That pitch had a lot of carry which was good and all the nicks carried which is what we want.

    “Liam Plunkett bowled fast down the hill so if he bowls anything like that it will be great for us to watch and good fun. If it’s anything like that wicket it will be a good cricketing wicket, there was enough in it for bowlers but also you can play your shots with a nice bit of pace.

    “The Yorkshire guys always say it’s a nicer wicket than it was a few years ago so I think it’s going to be a good contest.”

    Bell, who scored a fluent 56 in the first innings at Lords last week refused to be drawn on whether he might challenge Alec Stewart’s record of 133 Tests for England.

    He said: “If I can stay fit and get no injuries, I want to play as long as I can for England, I love it. All I wanted to do as a kid was play cricket for England and I’m very lucky to pull the shirt on and play, you don’t want to give that up and play as long as you can.”

    The second Test is due to start at Headingley on Friday, with England needing to win to claim the series against Sri Lanka to help erase the disappointments of the winter Ashes series against Australia.

  • 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

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