Ian Bell: ‘Grounding’ of England players after Bairstow incident is an overreaction

The Ashes-winner hits out at the ECB ‘grounding’ England players after Headbutt-gate...


I can’t believe that the England players have been grounded over the Bairstow incident. We’re talking about a team of grown men, some are in their mid-thirties, some have kids, some have played more than a hundred tests.

I hope it isn’t true. From speaking to players in the team, they made up their own rules at the start of the tour – that should’ve been enough. The fact that management have then done this doesn’t make sense.

The players should be trusted.

They have set their own curfews. What if your family’s out there – can you now not go and see them?

It seems like an overreaction to me. The ECB have been playing down the Bairstow story, saying it had no legs, but then go and do this. It’s a very, very strange decision.

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Alastair Cook is the most resilient cricketer I’ve ever played with. It’s what makes him so good.  I’ve no doubt that, of all the England players, he’s the one you can trust to score runs in Adelaide.

But, if he doesn’t, the pressure is going to build on him.

He hasn’t the set the world alight on this tour, including the warm-up games, and people are already asking questions.

He’ll be desperate to make an impact – when you look at Steve Smith’s match-winning innings, and how it turned the Test, that’s the kind of thing Cookie can do. Which is why his form is a concern – he’s so important to us.

The Australians will be desperate to get him out early again in the second Test, and ramp up the pressure on him. They’ll target Cook and keep on at him.

If England don’t win the second Test, then we’re really up against it. Going to the Wacca and Perth, the Aussies’ two favourite places, at 2-0 down would be incredibly difficult. So Adelaide is a must-win game.

But I think it’s a huge opportunity.

The day-night Test levels it all up completely. If we can bowl in the twilight period and get some movement, it’ll give England a real chance.

It’s definitely out best chance to win a Test in this series. As long as we start taking the Aussies on and actually throwing punches.

This England team have bounced back from poor performances and results before, and they really need to this time – else there’ll be big changes.

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What do you think?