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12-30-2011, 02:13 PM #1
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- Jan 2010
Ian Bell Predicts Controversy in UAE
Ian Bell, the England batsman, expects the occasional flashpoint in the series against Pakistan that starts next month, but knows both teams have a responsibility to compete in the right spirit.
Contests between England and Pakistan have a history of courting controversy and this tour takes place in the aftermath of the spot-fixing verdicts, with Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir given jail terms after being exposed by the News of the World in 2010.
Relations between the teams became increasingly strained during the one-day leg of that series but Andrew Strauss has previously spoken about how it is time to move on from spot-fixing. For their part Pakistan have a new-look team which has enjoyed a very successful 2011 although a number of players remain from the England tour.
"It's a slightly different Pakistan squad to last year. They are trying to prove lots of people wrong," Bell told the Daily Telegraph. "It will be a tough series and I am sure that at some point there will be an incident or two. But it's important we ensure that this series is remembered for the right reasons not for anything controversial."
Bell is also aware that England didn't cover themselves in glory during the one-day series against India in October when the team was criticised for their attitude in the field as they slumped to the 5-0 whitewash.
"We didn't put ourselves in a great light in the one-day series India with some of the stuff that was going on and we need to make sure that this series is played in the right way. Hopefully that will happen. It's important for both sides to be ambassadors for the game and we need to make sure that it is played in the right way."
Pakistan have finished 2011 as one of the in-form teams in the world, which bodes well for a tight tussle against England who start the series as the No. 1 Test team. Pakistan will have the advantage of greater knowledge of the conditions, having played 'home' Tests in UAE over the last two years, but Bell thinks inconsistency remains a real possibility.
"Pakistan have great individual players, they always have done, but they are unpredictable," he said. "On their day they can beat anyone but they can always lose to anyone. You never quite know what you are going to get with them.