ASHES winning wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has called on England boss Trevor Bayliss not to reinstate veteran middle-order player Ian Bell for this summer’s Test series against Sri Lanka.
Bell, who has played over 100 Test matches for England and scored more than 7,500 runs, has started the season in fine form, prompting calls from some quarters for his reintroduction to the national side.
The Warwickshire batsman was overlooked for the winter tour of South Africa, with diminutive Nottinghamshire star James Taylor replacing him in the middle order.
However, following the shock retirement of Taylor just weeks ago and the uncertainty surrounding top order players Alex Hales and Nick Compton; it seems three spots are presently up for grabs in England’s top-six.
Prior, who featured in 79 Test matches for England, has been enthused by England’s new young guns across all three formats of the game – the likes of Ben Stokes and Joe Root catching his eye.
And that’s why the former Sussex man believes it would be a backwards step for England if Bell was reinstated for this summer’s Test series against Sri Lanka.
“Ian Bell is still around of course and scoring a heap of runs in county cricket, he is a fantastic cricketer – there is absolutely no doubting that,” said Prior
“I was fortunate enough to play alongside him.
“I hope personally though that they go with a younger player who can keep that momentum going forward for England – selecting Ian Bell would be a backwards step.
“But it has to be a selection on who is scoring runs and who is performing best.
“It is a big summer coming up and English cricket, after going through quite a horrid time, has gained a lot of momentum through good performances in Test cricket, but also in the ODIs and the t20 World Cup.
“It is now important that we keep that momentum going into this summer.
“It is really pleasing to see people scoring runs early in the season.
“Too often you see people scoring 60s and 70s and expecting to get selected for England, whereas the reality is being expected to be able to bat for six or seven hours.
“Guys scoring not just hundreds but daddy-hundreds as Graham Gooch always used to say.
“Going onto those 150s and 200 marks – I think that is a true testament of players who are going to survive at the higher level of the game.
“Seeing guys getting stuck in and getting big scores is very good to see.”
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