Bell wants next helping from the Bowl

Ian Bell bats during England's one-day international defeat to New Zealand at Lord's yesterday
Ian Bell bats during England's one-day international defeat to New Zealand at Lord's yesterday
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Ian Bell might not admit it, but he needs a weekend jaunt to Hampshire right about now.

The England batsman will trot out at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow for the one-day international with New Zealand and will surely be oozing with confidence, even if his recent form might have left him short of runs.

Nobody thrives on batting at Hampshire’s home quite as much as Bell.

It was fitting that the Warwickshire man became the first player to score a Test century at the venue against Sri Lanka in June 2011.

But it was certainly no flash in pan.

Some players are simply suited to certain grounds.

They find an extra ounce of performance, there is more clarity of thought and those lucky breaks just seem to go for them.

Bell now has four centuries at the Ageas Bowl – three for England – and will fancy his chances of a fifth when Alastair Cook’s side face the Kiwis tomorrow.

Almost a year ago, Bell was in prime form for the clash against the West Indies, blasting 126 in the 114-run win.

He also smashed 126 not out against India in 2007, 119 not out against Sri Lanka in the Test match and 104 for Warwickshire against Hampshire in 2010.

With an average of nearly 64 on the ground, it’s no wonder he will be seen as a key wicket as England look to bounce back from yesterday’s loss.

But it’s also worth noting that he’s had his tough times on the sunny south coast before anything is taken for granted too much.

As a modest sort of bloke, Bell is not one to crow about his achievements.

But the quiet satisfaction was obvious last year when he blazed his 117-ball innings the day after having his chin split open during practice.

A rogue top-edge in the nets left him needing stitches but he was soon back fighting fit and ready to take his place at the top of the order.

Afterwards, Bell said: ‘It’s gone well for me here – even when I’ve been here with Warwickshire.

‘I enjoy playing here (the Ageas Bowl). The wicket is pretty flat and the outfield is quick, so it’s a nice place to come and bat.’

While the 31-year-old has not scored a half-century in five innings for his country this year, he’s a class act.

And England themselves will be confident knowing they also have a decent record on the ground.

In nine one-day internationals, they have won six and lost three with a run of five victories from their past seven visits.

A hefty loss to South Africa last August represented a rare Ageas Bowl defeat for England. And they will be keen to put that right against New Zealand.