Ian Bell has his sights set on Big Bash glory after helping Perth Scorchers to a comfortable seven-wicket semi-final win over Melbourne Stars.
Birmingham Bears captain Bell hit the winning runs to finish with an unbeaten 26 from 15 balls as the Scorchers booked a place in Saturday’s final against Brisbane Heat or Sydney Sixers.
The victory leaves Bell still in contention to emulate Bears team-mate Jeetan Patel who was recently part of the Wellington Firebirds team that lifted the domestic T20 title in New Zealand.
And the Bears skipper can’t wait for the final to roll round after a semi-final triumph set up by the brilliance of a player whom he knows well – mostly as an opponent: Aussie paceman Mitchell Johnson who took a remarkable three for three in his four overs.
“It was just fantastic bowling,” Bell said. “Strangely enough, it wasn’t one of the quicker pitches we’ve played on but it was just high-class bowling and put us in control right from the start. That’s what we set out to do and Mitch enabled us to do it, backed up by the other bowlers who also did a really great job.
“Then we chased the target down pretty comfortably and it was nice for me to be there at the end. Now we all just can’t wait for the final.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it out here. Playing in front of 30,000 people every game is a fantastic experience. The only thing that has taken a bit of getting used to is having thousands of Aussies on my side. There was one game where Shane Watson was getting booed and I was cheered – it’s not quite like that when I am playing for England here!
“But the whole trip has been not only really enjoyable but I think very beneficial for me personally in terms of what I can bring back to the Bears.
“It’s been really interesting to see the approach and tactics out here. It’s noticeable that every team in every situation tends to err on the positive. If they are five or six wickets down they will try to attack their way back into the game rather than just work the ball around. That makes for some incredible watching.
“I’ve definitely got plenty of food for thought for when the Bears play in the Blast next season.”
So Bell’s inaugural foray in the Big Bash will culminate in the final on the Scorchers’ home ground at the WACA next Saturday. He would love to round off the trip with a trophy before getting back down to business in earnest with the Bears.
“The final will be a fantastic occasion and then I’ll be back at Edgbaston next week and can’t wait to meet up with the boys and get cracking with Jim and Ash to get ready for the new season,” he said.
“This time out here with the Scorchers has been absolutely brilliant. I am really grateful for the opportunity and am loving it, but really it is just part of my pre-season. The most important thing for me is for the Bears to be challenging for trophies and hopefully winning them and I’m really looking forward to getting back to Edgbaston and building towards the new season. We’ve got a really strong spine to the team and some talented young players coming through so I am really excited about the future.
“I’ll probably take a couple of weeks off batting when I get back but there will be no let-up in my fitness work. I want to be as fit as I can be when we go out for the pre-season trip to Dubai.”