Ian Bell’s desire to re-establish himself in the England team is as deep as it has been well-documented in the last week.
Having been dropped for the last three Test matches of the winter series in the West Indies, Bell has been forced to reacquaint himself with the challenges of being on the outside looking in to an England side of which he has been pretty much part of the furniture for four years.
He has not enjoyed it. And he is passionate about ending his exile from a Test arena in which he averages a healthy 40.59 with the bat from 46 games.
But that is not the beginning and end of Bell’s career ambitions. Unlike some cricketers who spent much of their time at the top level, the former Princethorpe boy is just as passionate about playing for the county he represents.
The 27-year-old, Warwickshire through and through having been with them since he was 10, does not regard county service as a chore. And he wants to do everything he can to restore the Bears to the force they were when he was just a boy coming through the system in the 1990s
“I love playing for Warwickshire,” Bell said. “It is a massive part of my life.
“I grew up as a Warwickshire supporter seeing them have a lot of success and, while I want to play as much as I can for England, I don’t want to finish my career without winning trophies with Warwickshire.
“When I have finished playing for England I want to be part of a Bears side that wins the championship and also one-day trophies. That is as much part of my career goals as anything.
“Ashley Giles and Allan Donald make it very easy for me to slot back into the team when I am available and the guys have been brilliant. If I can help in any way that’s what I want to do.
“They come to me sometimes for thoughts in the mornings and that’s great for me because I want to contribute and keep learning and become more of a leader. That will help my Test cricket.”
Bell is still sweating on a place in England’s Test squad to face the touring West Indies after new team director Andy Flower decided to delay its announcement until Wednesday week in order to assess players returning from injury.
He certainly did everything right in his first knock of the season for Warwickshire last week. His 172 against Somerset was an innings of the highest quality against a swinging ball, albeit on a good Taunton track.
Bell has endured a relatively barren and unproductive winter. But with Test series against the West Indies and Australia and the Twenty20 World Cup looming this summer, six months down the line the winter of 2008/09 could seem like a very distant memory.
“It has been a frustrating winter,” Bell said. “I had opportunities at the start of it in India to really nail that number three position and, though I never really felt out of form, I just didn’t get the big scores to do that. Then when you have a Test match like we did in Jamaica someone is going to have to go and it happened to be me this time.
“It was very frustrating not to play another game on the tour. I have been lucky enough to play for the last three or four years with England and I miss it a hell of a lot.
“But I still believe I have a lot of cricket to play for England. My goals haven’t changed from when I made my debut. I just want to play as many matches for England as I can. I am certainly not in a position now where I just want to stand still and play county cricket. I want to climb up the world rankings again.
“It was a real challenge to play against Australia in their pomp and I would certainly like to have a century against them on my Test record.
“I improved when I went to Australia last time and I would love another opportunity to show them how good I am.”