Cow Corner

Where does run-machine Ian Bell rank in Ashes history?

Cow Corner

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Ian Bell continued his purple patch of form against Australia in the fourth Ashes Test in Durham, becoming only the third Englishman to score three centuries in a home Ashes series.

The stylish Bell rescued his side from a sticky situation at 49 for three, hitting 113 and moving past 500 runs for the series with a Test still to come as he continued his incredible run of form.

David Gower (1985) and Maurice Leyland (1934) are the only other Englishmen to chalk up three tons in a home Ashes series.

Bell now has four Ashes centuries and 20 in Test cricket.

Asked if it was proving to be a career-defining summer, the 31-year-old Bell replied: "I haven't thought of it like that. It's just nice to contribute. There will be time to think about that when I've finished with cricket."

Bell struggled to make an impression on Australian bowling greats like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne at the start of his career but he has blossomed into a world-class batsman.

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With England 2-0 ahead in the five-Test series it meant Bell - once the butt of Australia leg-spinner Warne's 'Sherminator' jibes - had again set his side on the path to a series-clinching success.

"I believed I was good enough to score Test hundreds against Australia but it did take a while," he said.

"My first two series were against arguably one of the best teams of all time. As a young player that was a real baptism. I learnt a lot from some great players.

"It's been enjoyable this time to score some hundreds and maybe put to bed some of the stuff I have done in the past," added Bell, who also hit 109 in the first Test in Nottingham and 109 in the second Test at Lord's.

But where does Bell now feature in the pantheon of great Ashes batsmen after hitting his third century and 500th run in the series with a Test still to come?

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Stats provided by Opta Sports

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