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Bell has eyes on an historic century.

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

Ian Bell's memories of England rejection earlier this summer have spurred him to set his sights on history in this week's final Test against Pakistan.

Dropped for the opening Test of the summer against Sri Lanka, Bell's route back into England's side appeared blocked despite a disappointing drawn three-match series.

But a recurrence of Andrew Flintoff's ankle problems allowed Bell a route back, initially just for the first Test against Pakistan, and he has seized his chance spectacularly. The Warwickshire batsman has hit 100 not out, 116 not out and 119 in the last three Tests.

Should he continue that sequence at The Oval this week, he would join Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond and Denis Compton as the only other England players to have scored four centuries in a series.

He said: "When I went to Lord's for the first Test I thought it was a one-off and came out of that with a hundred and thought I'd done what I needed to in that one-off game.

"That changed when Fred (Flintoff) was ruled out for the rest of the series, but the one thing I really wanted to do was to achieve some consistency because I think that's probably been lacking when I've played before.

"I've scored some runs and followed that with some low scores and I really wanted to achieve some real consistency in this series and thankfully I've been able to do that."

Should Bell cap a memorable summer with another century, it would complete a remarkable turnaround from the start of the summer.

Overlooked after being named in the squad for the Lord's Test against Sri Lanka, the selectors preferred Alastair Cook and Bell was presented with the long drive back to the Midlands instead.

He admitted: "Being left out of the Sri Lanka Test and driving away from Lord's that morning was quite hard. It's not something I want to be doing again.

"It was a real chance to look at things and correct a few things which I thought weren't right and work on areas I believe I can get better in ( that setback and being left out has definitely helped me.

"I've always enjoyed my cricket but I'm not sure I always believed I should be out there and good enough for that level."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2006
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