Bell brilliance breaks through pain barrier

Ian Bell proved the perfect successor to Kevin Pietersen in the England one-day side. Opener Bell scored a superb 126 in England’s first one-day international against the West Indies.

Pietersen’s sudden and surprising retirement from one-day internationals had made West Indies fancied to win the three match series. Bell had other ideas. Remarkably he scored the century despite having stitches in his face and a bruised jaw after an accident in the practice nets.

Pietersen was among the first to respond to Bell’s performance, tweeting "Belly you beauty! Please pick up the Man of the Match award". Bell duly did so, although grinning was still difficult given the state of his jaw.

Bell said that he had been determined to play. "I was quite lucky that all the precautions from the backroom staff yesterday got me in a good frame of mind," he said. "I pretty much thought I was going to play from last night anyway. It was weird, because it hurt more by my ear really rather than where it actually hit me. Then when the blood was coming down, I didn't really know where from - so it was a strange one really."

His innings was characterised by style and aggression, scoring freely but not irresponsibly. "Probably in the past, I've tried to hit the ball too hard sometimes and lose my shape," he said, "whereas today I did exactly as I'd play a Test match, sticking to the shots I know well. I didn't try to slog - which probably in the past I've been guilty of doing."

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