Frank Loesser said it best. “Ask me how do I feel,” chimes the ostentatiously virtuous Sarah Brown (rhetorically) to the covertly virtuous Sky Masterson in Loesser’s musical-without-equal Guys and Dolls, “Well sir, all I can say, is if I were a bell I’d be ringing!” Sarah’s campanological joie de vivre is currently being shared by all fans of English cricket after the national side beat the Australians 4-0 in the recent, deeply acontextual one-day international (ODI) series.
There were several stars of the show for England—Steven Finn, the young fast-bowling tyro; Ravi Bopara, finally establishing himself in the England line-up as a more-than-useful all-rounder; and, in our humble opinion, beyond them all, Ian Bell. Bell, who’d taken his place at the top of the order following Kevin Pietersen’s “retirement” from international one-day cricket for England, scored more runs than anyone else, and did so with an understated and effortless brilliance that redefined flamboyance. Bell may lack Pietersen’s “ring-a-ding-ding,” but his technique is sound, and the timing and sinuousness of his shots are positively tintinnabular. What’s more, Bell has been so good that the England team haven’t missed Pietersen’s spectacular dominance at all. Here is Ian Bell showing everyone how to play his specialty—that purest and silkiest of cricket shots, the off drive: