Mixed feelings for Bell at number four
Ian Bell wished he could have lasted longer as he moved back up the England order to number four
Ian Bell relished his unexpected opportunity to move back up the England order to number four - but just wishes his first experience there could have lasted longer.
Bell (58) shared a crucial century stand with Jonny Bairstow (72no) as England recovered from 54 for four on day two of the must-win Lord's Test to reach stumps on 208 for five, in reply to South Africa's 309 all out.
Bell has previously batted more regularly at six, or more recently five, in England's powerhouse batting order and of his own batting, and his 'new' position, Bell said: "I enjoyed it. I've always said I planned to move up the order, keep testing myself when I get the opportunity."
He added: "It was nice to get the chance at number four. It would have been nice to kick on and still be there, but I really enjoyed the responsibility of getting up the order more."
His chance has come, of course, because of the absence of Kevin Pietersen - controversially dropped after his contract wrangles and text message troubles in this Investec series.
On Friday night, Bell paid tribute to young Yorkshireman Bairstow - who would not be playing here had Pietersen not fallen out with his employers, and responded with a maiden Test half-century.
Bell hopes his and Bairstow's best efforts will help to keep England in with a chance of the victory they need to salvage a drawn series and stop South Africa taking away their world number one Test status.
He said: "Every run is going to be crucial on this wicket. It is just nibbling a little bit, probably more so than most Lord's pitches, but we know it's pretty good when the sun comes out.
"We need to get up to their score first. Obviously, the two guys (who) are in have a big part to play - I think it's going to be an action-packed morning, the way (Matt) Prior plays, Bairstow, (Graeme) Swann, (Stuart) Broad....there's not going to be too many block-shots around."
As for Bairstow, Bell could hardly help but be impressed, as he added: "From ball one, he looked really good to me. He didn't really change as the innings went on; he just took it a ball at a time. He played really, really well."