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Ian Bell signs up for Big Bash but does not close door on England

Bell plans to join up with Perth Scorchers in November
Will still be available for recall against Bangladesh and India

Ian Bell has completed a deal to play for Perth Scorchers in the forthcoming edition of Australia’s Big Bash League. But while he considers himself “all in” with his new Twenty20 team, it is not, he insists, a sign that his international ambitions have diminished.

The signing of the Warwickshire captain, as first reported by the Guardian last week, commits him to Perth for the entire tournament and he will fly out to Western Australia with family in November in preparation for their opening fixture with Adelaide Strikers on 23 December.

Only an England recall for the tours of Bangladesh and India would cause a change in this itinerary – the final Test before Christmas finishes on 20 December – and although the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, sounded Bell out about this outside possibility a fortnight ago, it is not something on his radar at present.

“It’s an opportunity that when the Perth coach, Justin Langer, rang me about I was quite surprised,” Bell said. “But when you watch the Big Bash at home it looks fantastic and to be involved is very exciting. I started my journey in Perth playing grade cricket for the University of Western Australia too and so to go back and play in Perth again is something I am proud of.”

Asked whether his arrangement with Perth contains scope for a late arrival, were he to be part of the England Test side touring this winter, Bell replied: “We haven’t spoken about any of that stuff yet. I’m all in with Perth Scorchers at the minute.

“Every player has ambitions to play for England and until I retire I am no different. This season I haven’t thought about it too much – it does you no good thinking about things that are out of your control anyway. I’m sure my phone won’t be switched off [when the England selectors meet in September]. As captain at Warwickshire, it never stops ringing anyway.”

Bell has not made an overwhelming case for a Test recall through his numbers in county cricket this summer, with an unbeaten 94 in the 50-over semi-final win against Somerset at Edgbaston on Monday his highest score since a century in the opening week of the County Championship against Hampshire in April.

The England management, however, are understood to have debated whether to parachute his 118 caps of experience back into their struggling middle order, something that would require a strong end to the season with Warwickshire, starting at home against the leaders Middlesex this Wednesday, to make such a recall not look unmerited.

Either way, the Perth deal comes after Bell’s best season in Twenty20 cricket to date, with the right‑hander having scored five half‑centuries for Birmingham Bears in the NatWest T20 Blast and averaged 40, with a strike-rate of 130.

Langer, the Perth head coach, said: “It’s exciting to be able to add a player of Ian’s top-level experience and quality to our squad. With 22 Test centuries and a one‑day international average close to 40, he’ll bolster our batting options.

“He’s played at the international level for more than a decade so brings experience and leadership having captained his county side Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears. We’re delighted to have him on board.”

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