Bell makes right noise for England

By CHRIS FOY, Daily Mail

Last updated at 10:54 07 July 2006

Andrew Flintoff's ankle injury has temporarily created a gaping hole in England's Test team, but Ian Bell yesterday provided compelling evidence that he is the man to provide batting cover, at least next week.

The 24-year-old Warwickshire batsman, in and out of favour since last summer's Ashes triumph, made 74 off 156 balls for England A against Pakistan at Canterbury.

While Flintoff is irreplaceable, Bell is surely in pole position to slot into the middle order if the selectors err on the side of caution with just four front-line bowlers at Lord's.

However, the man chiefly responsible for making the tourists toil in the field was someone who has disappeared off the international radar.

The last of A team captain Robert Key's 15 Test appearances came in South Africa in January 2005, but he weighed anchor on his county ground, rarely looking troubled en route to an unbeaten 128 as his team closed on 268 for three.

With Michael Vaughan certain to miss the Australia tour, Key may yet be a contender once again.

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