Only four cricketers have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award—in a year of England retaining the Ashes for the third consecutive time there’s an argument that there should be a fifth: Ian Bell.
The two most famous examples of English cricketers winning the award are Ian Botham in 1981 and Andrew Flintoff in 2005. In both instances they won due to their defining performances in epic, and ultimately victorious, Ashes series. Bell in 2013 is arguably no different.
Although England won the series comfortably, the scoreline does not reveal to closeness of the contest. Indeed there were various occasions when England were in genuine strife.
However, as an article on ESPN Cricinfo stated, Bell was "the difference" between the two sides. At crucial junctures in matches, it was Bell whose runs separated England from Australia. He scored 562 of them in the series, 174 more than his second-highest scoring team-mate, and his three centuries were instrumental in digging England out of potentially match-losing situations and indeed helping England win.
He came to the crease at Trent Bridge with England at 124-3, at Lord’s with England 28-3 and at Chester-le-Street with England 49-3, each time he scored a hundred, each time the match was transformed.
On a pure sporting level Bell is one of the most valid candidates for Sports Personality of the Year. However, there is as everyone knows, and whether it’s right or wrong, more to the award than sporting results. Personality, charisma, character—they all come into it.
But herein lies the beauty of Bell, and why he should win the controversial, albeit vaunted, award. His personality is, to the public, almost non-perceptible. He keeps to himself, he trains hard, plays hard, keeps his family business private, keeps his secrets private. He is, in this regard, as pure a sportsman as there are.
Much like Andy Murray, the favourite to win this year’s award, the beauty of Bell is the way he has remained uncorrupted by the modern-day sports machine. He plays cricket, and he plays cricket well. Very well. There’s no more, and there’s no less. That’s why he should win BBC Sports Personality of the Year.