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England cricket veteran Ian Bell admits he has room to improve

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England's Ian Bell is hoping to be one of the stars of the 10th Cricket World Cup which kicked off yesterday

England's Ian Bell is hoping to be one of the stars of the 10th Cricket World Cup which kicked off yesterday

Gareth Copley

England's Ian Bell is hoping to be one of the stars of the 10th Cricket World Cup which kicked off yesterday

Ian Bell is by a distance the most experienced one-day international among the World Cup hopefuls on England's tour of Sri Lanka, but insists his urge to improve is as strong as ever.

Bell's 148 caps put him fifth in England's all-time list and, in the absence of the injured James Anderson, at least 40 clear of his closest pursuer, Ravi Bopara, in the squad selected for the seven-match series, which will get under way tomorrow.

Captain Alastair Cook, three years Bell's junior at 29, is 62 caps adrift.

In addition, Bell needs only 139 runs to become just the second Englishman to reach 5000 in ODIs after Paul Collingwood, England's most capped player in 50-over cricket.

It all adds up to a world-class career but not a world-beating one, because in keeping with most of his contemporaries Bell has no global trophy on his CV.

Bell nonetheless remains optimistic of a much-needed win against opponents marginally above them in the International Cricket Council rankings, to kick-start progress to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year.

"Those are the facts. That's where we are," said Bell, scheduled to bat at number three against Sri Lanka behind Cook and his new opening partner Moeen Ali.

"(But) this is a great place to start (improving). To win this series would be a massive bonus, building towards the World Cup. The day you don't want to get better is the day you don't want to be playing any more," he said.

"I still think for me the best way to play is proper cricket shots, strong shots, using my skill to get the ball around the ground."

Belfast Telegraph