sport

Bell sparkles as batsmen struggle

Nottinghamshire's Ian Bell's Test class stood out with a century on a day otherwise dominated by bowlers in awkward conditions at Trent Bridge.

Bell, returning to the scene of the first of his three Ashes hundreds last summer, needed just a little early fortune in an authoritative 122 out of 263 after his Warwickshire side were put in at the start of this LV= County Championship Division One match.

After Nottinghamshire then stumbled to a hapless 43 for six at stumps, the value of Bell's 47th first-class century was plain to see.

His 148-ball innings, and 56 from opener William Porterfield, gave the Bears substance against a home attack led by Australia's Peter Siddle but in which Andy Carter (five for 55) was most successful on this occasion.

After the early loss of Varun Chopra, neatly caught at slip off first change Harry Gurney, Porterfield's second fifty in successive matches was a fluent one.

Laurie Evans failed to handle Carter's bounce, fending straight to short-leg in the tall seamer's first over.

Porterfield reached his half-century with an off-side boundary on the up off Carter, his ninth in 66 balls, but was gone before lunch when he poked a return catch to Steven Mullaney.

Siddle had his first Nottinghamshire wicket in his second match, Ateeq Javid caught at slip, and Carter got Tim Ambrose with a very good delivery which beat the forward defence and clipped the off bail.

Batting had become a more precarious occupation as heavier cloud cover came in from the west and the regularity of movement off the pitch and in the air increased proportionally.

Bell remained largely untroubled, however - once he had survived two half-chances, both dying on Phil Jaques at midwicket off Luke Fletcher and then Siddle on seven and 15 respectively.

He shared an important stand of 74 with Chris Woakes until his sixth-wicket partner edged Fletcher to slip.

The tail began to falter before Bell reached his century, but he did so with a neat deflection to fine-leg for four off Gurney.

By the time he was ninth out, losing his off-stump playing no shot to Carter, he had hit 18 fours and two sixes - all but two of them to the short Bridgford Road boundary.

Carter completed the second five-wicket haul of his career, and his first for Nottinghamshire, when Chris Wright mistimed a low drive to extra-cover.

But Wright (three for seven) soon got his own back with the wickets of openers Jaques, pinned in front, and Mullaney, well caught head-high to his left by Bell in the slips.

Keith Barker bowled Michael Lumb, playing no shot; James Taylor was lbw trying to push Wright to leg - and when Nottinghamshire's struggles extended to Riki Wessels trapped in front on the back foot by Oliver Hannon-Dalby and finally nightwatchman Fletcher sacrificed in a comedy run-out, Bell's performance was put into still grander context.