August 2006 – A year in the life

August 2006 will be remembered for the incidents that saw a test match
forfeited – but also for the day a player came of age.

For the scientifically-minded, hyperactive inhabitants of this modern world, time is measured by the oscillation of caesium atoms. There are those of us however for whom life takes on a quieter, less frantic pace, and a more leisurely periodic measure is applicable to our sedentary lifestyle – such as the frequency of Ashes series.

Come back with me then, less than the twinkling of an eye, to Kennington Oval, London, and the wild celebrations that reverberated around a country starved for so long of real success on the cricket field. The series win assured, the euphoria palpable, England exploded with joy.

One young player could have been forgiven for feeling that his own series contributions had been somewhat below par – an average the wrong side of twenty, seven single-figure scores and a growing reputation for resembling a rabbit trapped in the headlights of an approaching juggernaut suggested that there was one on the open-topped bus, perhaps, on borrowed time.

Twelve months on, Ian Bell’s place in England’s test and one-day sides seems assured. The occasional failures are still there, but more than anyone else in the team comes the confidence that once that first half an hour has been negotiated, a flutter on him being England’s major contributor with the bat is as likely as not to pay dividends.

August 2006 was highly significant for Bell for one reason and one reason alone – his third century in successive test matches assured his place in the record books for all time. Bell becomes the tenth Englishman to have achieved the feat, equalling some all-time greats whose numbers include Sir Jack Hobbs, Denis Compton and the incomparably immovable Geoff Boycott.

Only Ken Barrington has gone one better than Bell for England – twice embarking on a four-game ton-scoring streak – but putting matters into perspective, the great Sir Don Bradman notched up a round half dozen before the Second Worlld War. Of the current Aussies, Matthew Hayden, almost unnoticed, found his feet at last and embarked on the first tottering steps of his own four-game trot at The Oval last year.

Which brings us full-circle, as we are but a heartbeat away from the next Ashes series. A year ago, Bell’s form was such that he was in danger of falling a long way down the pecking-order. Injuries and the personal demons of others have given him the chance to cement his place in the side to such an extent that the name of Ian Ronald Bell will be one of the first to find its way on to the selectors’ sheets when they sit down next Tuesday.

Cricketweb Player of the Month

August, 2006

Ian Bell

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Eddie Sanders