Dubai: Ian Bell hopes England’s cramped season next year might help him stage the unlikeliest of international comebacks.
The 36-year-old middle order batsman played the latest of his 118 Test matches for England three years ago this week against Pakistan in Sharjah.
Before that, he clocked up 22 Test centuries in 12 years with the side, winning five of the seven Ashes series he played in.
“With the 50-over World Cup and Ashes series in the same calendar year next year, the challenge will be getting the guys through a World Cup and five Tests injury free,” he told Gulf News at the DHL Swing Against Cancer charity golf event at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday.
And while he is retired from the white-ball format, he admitted he hasn’t given up hope of his Test match return, especially after getting seven centuries for Warwickshire over the summer.
“If there is another little chapter to come then great, if not I’ll keep going and keep enjoying it, you’re a long time retired so I don’t want to give up the game too early, I want to play as long as I can, and the body is good.
“If you had asked me that last year, I was nearly done with international cricket and very close to hanging up my boots and moving on, but I had the whole winter off and just came into the season really fresh, excited and it just seemed to click back into gear again.
“I’m going to play a little bit of T20 after Christmas now for Dhaka, and then hopefully hit the season running, then who knows, I haven’t closed the door on Test cricket if England comes calling, but I’m just happy at the moment knowing I’m back at the level I can be.”
Such a comeback would mimic Joe Denly’s return for England after eight years out.
“He’s a little bit younger than me, but look you never say never, experience is a wonderful thing when you’re going into a big series and we’ve seen Chris Rodgers do it for Australia.
“The best thing for me and what I’ve always done is to let my cricket do the talking. If I score some 100s at the start of the year then you never know, with injuries ...
“I hope England go on to have a great winter and win the Ashes next year whether I’m part of that or not, so my focus now is just scoring as many runs as I can for Warwickshire and having another great year.
“If I’m winning games for Warwickshire and scoring those volumes of runs and if there’s an injury or a lack of form, then hopefully I’ll be ready to go. If not it’s not a problem, I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved in my career and England may have moved on and it could be a youth policy going forward, which I’ve no problem with, but if the call came I’d be ready.”