London : Ian Bell, who scored his maiden double century in the ongoing fourth Test against India, feels there is a healthy competition among English batsmen to stack up centuries.
Bell scored 235 on the third day of The Oval Test and overtook Alastair Cook as the leading run scorer for England this year.
“When I started, there were batsmen with 4-5 centuries. You look at the opposition and it would be 20, 30, 40 (hundreds). It’s great now to look at that and see all the guys now with 19 hundreds and 16 hundreds.”
Asked whether there is a healthy competition among the batsmen, Bell said, “Yes. If someone gets big, your mind also tells you get a bigger one. There is some competitiveness there but it’s healthy and constructive. And it’s good to see we are stacking up the numbers now like opposition teams we’ve played in the past, which is great for English cricket.”
Scoring a century at The Oval has not come easy for Bell.
“It’s a funny ground. I never made big here. I had a good debut and I resurrected my career here but I have mixed feelings about playing here. I have sat in the same seat in the dressing room and it has finally paid off,” said Bell who has scored 950 runs this year.
Bell, who missed a double century by just one run against South Africa two years back, has adjusted well to the No.3 position. He moved up the order from No. 5 in the second Test at Trent Bridge after Jonathon Trott was ruled out with a injury in the ongoing series. He replied strongly to the challenge and made 159.
“At times when I was up the order at 3, I don’t think I was mature enough and ready. I believe I am a much better cricketer now than the last time I did it. I’ve learnt a lot batting at 5. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge in this series against a good bowling attack to get up there and show everyone what I can do at No.3.”
“I’m pretty realistic as well, that in next series I’ll be back at No. 5,” said Bell.
Bell said Graeme Swann, who dismissed three Indian batsmen Saturday, could play a crucial role in the second innings as well. India are trailing by a massive 488 runs with just five first-innings wickets left.
“It is exciting for us to go into day four and to see Swanny (Graeme Swann) full of confidence, it lifts the rest of the guys. If we have to make them follow on, we know that Swanny can bowl at one end and our seamers can rotate and stay quite fresh for the other end.”