Ian Bell: World Cricket's Batsman of the Month, August 2013
He was the top run scorer in the Ashes series and without Bell's contributions, England might have found themselves in a few more tightly-contested matches against Australia.
It's almost cruel that Shane Watson with his 295 runs in August (not counting the ODI) scored more runs than Bell in August, but the award for Batsman of The Month is about more than just total runs scored.
It's about the value of the runs in the context of the game and the series as a whole.
While Aaron Finch's recording-breaking knock for Australia against England in their first T20 certainly put him in contention, Bell was just far more valuable to his team over a set period of time.
Bell himself has said that this year has been the best of his career. Writing about his experiences in The Independent, Bell said:
This has been the summer of my career; 2011 was great, with runs against Sri Lanka and India, but to contribute in an Ashes victory is what you dream about when you're growing up. I've heard people say that the 2013 series may, in years to come, be known as "Bell's Ashes" in the same way that 1981 is known as "Botham's Ashes". All I can say is, if that does happen I would consider it an incredible honour."
In that 2011 year, Bell scored 950 runs in eight Tests at an average of 118.75, with a high score of 235.
It was a terrific year, but it was in August that Bell's value to the English team became really apparent. With the top order faltering so often—Alastair Cook averaging 27.70, Jonathan Trott averaging 29.30 and Joe Root averaging 37.66—Bell was the glue that held the team together.
During the third Ashes Test in Manchester, Bell was in Kevin Pietersen's shadow as the Warwickshire player managed 60 while Pietersen raced to scintillating 113.
Still it was arguably his calmness at the crease which helped England rebuild after losing three wickets for 17 runs. Bell paired up with Kevin Pietersen for a 115-run stand to help stabilize England. He wasn't really needed in the second innings as bad weather ruined the party and the match was drawn.
Bell returned to his century-scoring ways at Chester-le-Street in Durham, notching up 113, scoring nearly 35 percent of England's second innings all on his own. He was the only player to go past a half century. A rare blip of scoring just six in the first innings was quickly forgiven. England won the fourth Test and with it The Ashes.
Bell was far more subdued in the fifth and final Test at The Oval, scoring just 45 and 17, but as a whole he had a superb month.
Special mention to runner up batsman of the month goes to Pietersen. Entertaining, refreshing and freakishly talented, Pietersen had a very good run in The Ashes.
His century at Manchester and his adaptability at The Oval is what made him stand out. Labouring his way to 50 off 133 balls in the first innings of the final Test, before smashing his way to 62 off 55 in the second innings, showed Pietersen's adaptability.
It's not that tough being KP.
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