Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Ian Bell, a young Ramprakash?

A couple of weeks ago a cricket journalist said on the TV that Ian Bell MBE was ‘the best batsman of his generation’. Certainly he has been given a long run in the England side despite less than impressive results. I thought it worth a closer look.

Bell’s Test average is 41.79 which twenty years ago would be considered good. Today I would suggest that a player who consistently averages less than 45 is struggling in Test cricket. He has seven test centuries in seventy innings. Of those seventy eight were ‘not-out ‘, although four of the not-outs were in century making innings. That makes a century conversion rate of 7/66 which is 10.6% (Pietersen’s in comparison is 17%). This next bit might seem a bit nasty but I think it is important information when considering someone like Ian Bell – very few of his seven hundreds mattered much. Amazingly, Ian Bell has only made Test hundreds after another England player has already made a century in the same innings. England has always made in excess of 445 when Bell has made a century:

162* v Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street, June 2005
Eng 447-3 dec, Trescothick 151

115 v Pakistan at Faisalabad, Nov 2005
Eng 446, Pietersen 100

100* v Pakistan at Lords, July 2006
Eng 528-9 dec, Cook 105, Collingwood 186

106* v Pakistan at Old Trafford, July 2006
Eng 461-9 dec, Cook 127

119 v Pakistan at Headingly, Aug 2006
Eng 515, Cook 135

109 v West Indies at Lords, May 2007
Eng 553-5, Cook 105, Collingwood 111, Prior 126*

110 v New Zealand (2nd Inngs) at Napier, Mar 2008
Eng 467-7 dec, Strauss 177

As you can clearly see Ian Bell has been very short on high scores recently – he has batted 27 times since his 109 against West Indies. He has also played ten Test matches against Australia, three against Sri Lanka and six against India and has highest scores of 87, 83 and 67 respectively. It is not looking that good for the best batsman of his generation…


Brian Carpenter said...

Rob, I agree completely. I've felt for a while that there were unavoidable similarities between the two and more and more people have started to notice how few runs Bell has made when it's really mattered and the pressure hasn't been taken off him by other players doing the business earlier. While Bell's already made far more Test tons than Ramps managed, you're right to point to the fact that the context is different now - averages are higher, batsmen hold sway more often around the world, and Bell has benefited from the relative security provided by an England contract in a way that would have helped Ramprakash too if they'd existed in the early nineties.

I've written on many occasions of my very high regard for Bell, who (like Ramps) has all the equipment bar the right mentality to be among the world's best batsmen. The trouble is I don't think he really believes it himself and I'm now starting to wonder if he ever will.

I'm sure he'll start against SA at Lord's but I think he'll need some really meaningful runs soon to keep his place (although the fact that Colly is also struggling so much may help him to do so).

Rob said...

Thanks for your comments Brian.

Jrod said...

So he can dance?

Rusty said...

I always thought Bell was a rabbit. Very needy. Desperate to prove himself. Worse than Simon Katich.

I like rabbits. But not on a cricket pitch.

scorpicity said...

He is a good player but certainly not the best... may that journalist was his uncle or in-law.