AFTER ASHES: Coach John Bell.
AFTER ASHES: Coach John Bell. David Nielsen

Today's test batsmen are scared of the ball, says Bell

FORMER Queensland player and coach John Bell believes the recent Ashes cricket series has shown up technical deficiencies in English cricketers that stem from their junior years.

And while the Aussies were celebrating their 5-0 success, Bell warns the same failings are being bred into Aussie cricketers as well.

Bell currently coaches the Thunder, which features a host of young cricketers, in the Ipswich Division One competition

"England would have been better served by bringing over sports psychologists rather than their infamous 82-page menu of dietary demands," the former Queensland wicket-keeper said.

Bell believes David Warner's "scared eyes" comment about the English during the Gabba test was tactless but spot-on.

"The bodyline tactics by Mitchell Johnson brought about the complete disintegration of England's batting technique during the series," Bell said.

"That England hurriedly received a shipment of protective gear prior to the second test simply confirmed the suspicions they were running scared.

"Johnson was awesome but how would they have handled Thommo, who bowled 20 clicks faster than Johnson."

Bell would know, having risen through the ranks in the Thompson era, before batsmen wore helmets.

"Both batting and evasion techniques had to be better then," he said.

"It was simply a matter of playing for your life against the likes of Thommo at his peak."

Perhaps it is the helmets, the dearth of genuine fast bowlers or flat, covered pitches.

But Bell has no doubt the current generation of test batsmen, not just the English, have little idea of how to play hostile pace bowling.

But it is not just technique at fault, with Bell questioning their courage.

"Many cricketers today are scared of the ball," he said.

"Youngsters wear protective helmets constantly from under 10s, when batting and keeping.

"Consequently, as adults, they feel insecure without a helmet.

"Trying to get someone to field at bat-pad in grade cricket today is difficult, even with all the protective gear."

The only way to get around it, according to Bell, is to dispense with the protective gear when you can.

"Do most of the throwdowns without the batting helmet," he said. "This builds a pure technique and ensures the player learns to respect, not fear, the ball. This will build the confidence to get across into line against the fastest bowling."



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