Southampton: England suffered a setback on the eve of their first One-Day International against West Indies, with Ian Bell suffering an injury during a practice session. Bell was hit on the chin while facing throwdowns and needed stitches. His availability for the first ODI on Saturday is in doubt.
Bell was in line to open the batting for England, after a vacancy created at the top of the order following Kevin Pietersen's retirement. Andy Flower, the England coach, had said on his inclusion that the England think-tank weren't looking for Bell to play like Pietersen, but to be himself.
"We don't want him to do a similar job to Pietersen," said Flower. "We want him to be Ian Bell and play great international cricket."
Bell, who plays for Warwickshire, made his ODI debut for England in the same match as Kevin Pietersen in November 2004 against Zimbabwe. However, he hasn't been able to nail down a permanent spot in the squad, though he has always been part of the selectors' plans as his 108 ODIs testify.
Alastair Cook, the England ODI captain, admitted that Bell was a doubtful starter for the first ODI, but said he would name the final eleven only at the toss. "Yeah, I think looking at him walking off he looked a little bit sore, clearly it had just happened. He's a little bit of a doubt at the moment. We'll announce the team at the toss like we normally do, we'll just have to play that one by ear," said Cook.
Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, also expressed sympathy with Bell. "I don't think any cricketer wants to see an opposing player get injured, or will take pleasure in that. It is unfortunate for him."