Bell rings after Cook departure

Ian Bell (pictured) has recovered well from the loss of his batting partner Alastair Cook

Ian Bell (pictured) has recovered well from the loss of his batting partner Alastair Cook

First published in National Sport © by

Ian Bell helped England overcome the early loss of his captain and opening partner Alastair Cook in the first NatWest Series match at the Ageas Bowl.

Bell was passed fit this morning, for his first assignment as replacement at the top of the England order for the retired Kevin Pietersen, despite a suspected broken jaw after edging a pull into his chin in practice yesterday.

He showed no ill-effects, though, in a match minus West Indies' destructive opener Chris Gayle - a shock absentee because of a shin injury.

England were almost instantly without Cook, after being put in under cloudy skies - but thanks to an unbroken stand between Bell and number three Jonathan Trott, nonetheless progressed encouragingly to 76 for one after 15 overs.

Cook departed to only the third ball of the match, from Ravi Rampaul, pushing forward and edging a modicum of movement behind.

It was a score draw in the first over, though, after West Indies squandered their only review on an lbw appeal against Trott only for Hawkeye to side with umpire Richard Kettleborough by demonstrating the ball would have merely clipped leg-stump rather than hit it flush.

Trott first found the boundary for England, clipping Andre Russell handsomely off his toes from the final ball of the fourth over.

Then in Russell's next, Bell was ready to put his stamp on proceedings. A memorable six, struck high over long-off from a length ball, was followed by three fours in five balls - a cut, a pull and another drive on the up wide of mid-off.

Bell therefore went from four to 22 in an over, and Sammy had to make a change. The introduction of Sunil Narine's unconventional spin, then Sammy and Dwayne Bravo's medium-pace, had a calming effect.

Bell (47no) and Trott reined back to accumulation, and the rush of boundaries was replaced by some cannily-placed twos on this especially big playing area.

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