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How did Ian Bell rate his career-best Test double-century against India in 2011?

The batsman put the tourists to the sword.

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Ian Bell produced a masterclass (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Ian Bell produced a masterclass (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Ian Bell produced a masterclass (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Former England batsman Ian Bell celebrates his 38th birthday on Saturday, April 11.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at how the Warwickshire player described his Test-best 235 which eventually helped England thrash India at The Oval in 2011 and move to number one in the world.

Bell savours career-best form

Bell put himself top of the 2011 Test run-scoring charts – and agreed after his maiden double-century that he was in the best form of his life.

Bell demonstrated beyond any doubt his liking for England’s number three spot, vacated by the injured Jonathan Trott, with a career-best 235 at The Oval to add to his crucial 159 in the second match of the series against India at Trent Bridge.

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Ian Bell leaves the field after scoring 235 runs (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Ian Bell leaves the field after scoring 235 runs (Anthony Devlin/PA)

PA

Ian Bell leaves the field after scoring 235 runs (Anthony Devlin/PA)

As England closed on a 4-0 whitewash – the tourists finished day three on 103 for five, in a hapless reply to 591 for six declared – Bell was invited to reflect on his personal contribution.

“I feel form-wise at the minute that I’m as good as I’ve been in my career,” said Bell, who was just a single short of a first double-hundred at Lord’s in 2008.

“I look back on that 199 and falling one short against South Africa, and it was a good innings, but that one run does make a hell of a difference.

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Ian Bell on his way to his first hundred (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Ian Bell on his way to his first hundred (Anthony Devlin/PA)

PA

Ian Bell on his way to his first hundred (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“I always believed I had some unfinished business at three. At times when I was up the order there before, I don’t think I was mature enough and ready.

“I believe I’m a much better cricketer now than the last time I did it.

“I’ve learned a lot batting at five, and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge in this series against a good bowling attack to get up there and show people what I can do at three.

“But I’m pretty realistic as well that next series I’ll be back at five.”

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Ian Bell, an Aston Villa fan, holds up a club shirt signifying his 235 runs against India (Nick Potts/PA)

Ian Bell, an Aston Villa fan, holds up a club shirt signifying his 235 runs against India (Nick Potts/PA)

PA

Ian Bell, an Aston Villa fan, holds up a club shirt signifying his 235 runs against India (Nick Potts/PA)

The knock ensured Bell led Alastair Cook narrowly, with Kevin Pietersen third, in that year’s international Test run tallies – statistical proof of England’s prolific collective performances.

He credited batting coach Graham Gooch, as well as the batsmen themselves, adding: “Goochie drives us anyway as a batting unit in terms of ‘going big’.

“But for me personally, when you see the other guys getting double-hundreds it’s in your mind as well to go even bigger and bigger and bigger.

“There’s some competitiveness in there, which is healthy and very constructive as well.

“When I started and used to look at the programme, there’d be four or five hundreds (for us) and with the opposition there’d be 20, 30, 40. It’s great for English cricket now to look at that and see we are stacking up some numbers now like opposition teams.”

Bell’s highest Test score came at a venue where he had endured decidedly mixed fortunes.

“It’s been a funny ground for me. I’ve never ‘gone big’ here,” he said.

“I had a good debut here. I resurrected my career here against Australia, but I also got a pair.

“I’ve always stayed in the same seat in the dressing room, and finally it’s paid off.”

PA