25 Jul 2009

Bell set to replace Pietersen

2:19 pm on 25 July 2009

Ian Bell is set to return to England's Test team next week at his Edgbaston home ground after star batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the remainder of the Ashes series with an Achilles problem.

Bell, 27, may have been out for a duck against Hampshire on Friday, in a match where he only made seven in the first innings, but he has long been regarded as the next man in line should England need to alter their batting line-up.

The Warwickshire batsman was included in the squads, but not picked for the final XI, in both of the first two Tests against Australia.

England are currently 1-0 up in the series, following a draw in Cardiff and their 115-run win at Lord's last week.

They are due to announce a 13-man squad on Sunday for the third Test of the five-match series and England national selector Geoff Miller paved the way for Bell's return by saying Friday the extra two places were likely to be taken by additional bowlers, rather than batsmen.

Bell played the last of his 46 Tests against the West Indies in Jamaica in February but was dropped after a run of low scores, with Ravi Bopara taking over in England's problem position of No.3.

However, Bell has scored heavily in the County Championship with 640 runs in his seven innings this seaon prior to the double Hampshire disappointment.

Probable England Test squad: Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matthew Prior (wkt), Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions, Stephen Harmison, Monty Panesar.