Former England batsman Ian Bell turned 38 years old on Saturday, 11 April 2020. About 12 years ago, Bell fell one run short of a double century against the Proteas in the first Test at Lord’s in London.
Bell capitalised against a rather samey Proteas bowling attack comprising four right-arm seamers – Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis – and the ineffective left-arm spin of Paul Harris.
Bell batted in fifth position after openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook had shared a century alliance and captain Michael Vaughan perished for just two.
Bell and fellow middle-order batsman Kevin Pietersen, who hit 152, combined for a 286-run fourth-wicket partnership. Burgeoning all-rounder Stuart Broad later struck 76 down the order on an evidently flat track.
Bell was the last to fall in the first innings, as Harris held a sharp return catch. The 199 marked the highest of Bell’s Test career, which was surpassed three years later en route to 235 against India at The Oval in London.
Middle-order batsman Ashwell Prince struck a near standalone ton in the Proteas’ dismal response of 247 all out to England’s 593-8 declared.
Vaughan duly enforced the follow-on and opened the bowling with frontline spinner Monty Panesar and part-timer Pietersen. A flat pitch that was later labelled a poor advertisement for Test cricket yielded centuries for Graeme Smith, Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla in the fourth innings.
Even Cook bowled an over in the closing throes of a tame draw.
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