A prolific season with Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears has renewed Ian Bell’s hunger for the game to the extent that he has entertained the possibility of reviving his England career.
Bell, 36, played the last of his 118 Tests against Pakistan in late 2015, but this season is averaging 55.41 in the County Championship and is currently the second-highest run-scorer in the Vitality Blast with 471 runs at a strike-rate of 144.92 a year after he stood down from the Warwickshire captaincy.
Early in Ed Smith’s tenure as national selector there has been a clear push for youth in the Test side with Ollie Pope to make his debut against India at Lord’s following the call-ups of Sam Curran and Dom Bess, but England’s middle-order remains far from settled
“The questions have started to come a little bit more now, with the form I’ve had through the season and obviously England’s middle order,” he told BBC WM.
“If you asked me that question now I would definitely want to play again. If you’d asked me that 12 months ago, it would have been a different answer.
“Whether it is with Warwickshire, Birmingham Bears or England, I just still want to be winning games of cricket.”
Bell admitted he went through some tough times last year and struggled to adjust to life outside the England team where he had been a fixture since returning to the side during the 2009 Ashes until being axed ahead of the South Africa tour in 2015-16.
“Last year, I wasn’t in a particularly good place,” said Bell. “I’d struggled with the batting and there were some massive questions in my own mind as to whether it was time to retire and I did ask myself those questions.
“It’s been quite a tough adjustment not being an England player any more. But I felt even when I finished with England that I had a lot of cricket left under my belt. I spoke to a lot of ex-players and they all said ‘you’re a long time retired, don’t look back with any regrets’.”