Ian Bell Steps Down as Bears Captain

Ian Bell Steps Down as Bears Captain

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Pic: YouTube, via ECB with thanks

Ian Bell has stood down from the captaincy of Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears. This follows the decision to drop him from the Birmingham Bears T20 side that defeated Lancashire to ensure qualification for the NatWest T20 Blast quarter finals.

Grant Elliott will captain the Birmingham Bears in their match against Surrey on Friday. Jonathan Trott will take over the captaincy of the Championship side for the rest of the season.

Ashley Giles, Sport Director at Warwickshire CCC, said: “Ian and I have spoken regularly throughout the season and he made the decision to stand down as skipper following our Specsavers County Championship win over Middlesex two weeks ago.

“It’s very brave of Ian to make this decision, but one that we fully respect.

“Having him focused solely on scoring runs for Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears is a huge asset to the club as we bid to reach a third Finals Day in four years and aim to build on our Championship victory at Lord’s.”

Ian Bell said: “It’s been an absolute honour to lead my home county over the last 18 months, and my decision to stand down is something that I have thought long and hard about over a period of weeks.

“This is the right time for me to stand down as captain, to focus on my batting and scoring runs, which will be the best thing for the team.

“As a senior player, I will support the team in all ways possible and I believe that our squad has very exciting times ahead.”

In view of Bell’s own lack of form, and the struggles of the team in both the Specsavers County Championship and the Royal London One Day Cup, the decision comes as no surprise. Even so, it is not something that will have come easily to Bell who has been a committed Bears supporter since childhood.

Bell led Warwickshire to the Royal London One Day Cup last year. But this season, the Bears finished last in their Royal London group. They are also in the bottom two in Division One of the County Championship, with a mountain to climb if they are to avoid relegation.

Although Bell scored well in the Royal London Cup earlier in the season, his batting form in both the Championship and the T20 competition has been indifferent. He averages only in the mid-twenties.

At least as significant is the fact that his T20 strike rate this season has been, at 117.28, lower than all the Bears’ other recognised batsmen. In the first-class game, his last hundred was at the start of the 2016 season.

Still only 35, there is no doubt that, if Bell can recover his batting form, he can play a major part for the Bears as they seek to rebuild an ageing team. Whether the appetite is there is another matter.

Bell’s decision to stand down continues the rapid pace of change at Edgbaston. It follows the mid-season retirement of Ian Westwood, the club’s decision to let Rikki Clarke go to Surrey and the recruitment of young players Will Rhodes, Adam Hose and Dominic Sibley.

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