Ian Bell to retire at end of 2020 season

Vintage Bell as he unfurls a cover drive against New Zealand © Getty Images

Ian Bell, the former England middle-order batsman, will retire from professional cricket at the end of this season.

Bell, 38, last played for England in 2015, but has been a regular for Warwickshire since then. He missed the whole of the 2019 season with injury, but has struggled for runs this year with a top score of 28 in all formats.

“It’s true when they say you know when the time’s right, and unfortunately, my time is now,” Bell said .”While my hunger and enthusiasm for the sport that I love remain as strong as ever, my body simply can’t keep up with the demands of the game to the standard of which I expect of myself.”

Bell’s retirement comes as something of a surprise, with his announcement only two months after he had signed a new deal for 2021. But in a statement, he said that he “couldn’t disrespect the club I love by being unable to play to the level they deserve”.

“It’s been an absolute privilege and honour to fulfil my boyhood dream of playing for both England and Warwickshire,” Bell said. “As a child, to play just once for either would have been enough for me, but to do so for the past 22 years is more than I could have ever wished for.

“To have spent my entire career and won trophies with my boyhood club is something both myself and my family are enormously proud of. To everyone associated with the club; the staff, players, fans and anyone I’ve worked with during this time: thank you.

Bell will play Warwickshire’s final Bob Willis Trophy fixture on Sunday, away at Glamorgan, before playing his final T20 game next week. He will be one of three Warwickshire stalwarts retiring this season, along with Tim Ambrose and Jeetan Patel, and the club’s sport director Paul Farbrace said that the club would need to “rebuild” as a result.

“Ian will retire from the game as a true Bears legend,” Farbrace said. “He’s come through our development system and academy, won every trophy possible, and he has broken club batting records.

“During his 12-year international career, he was also a fantastic ambassador for Warwickshire CCC who scored runs all over the world and was firmly established as one of the world’s best batsmen.

“Knowing when to retire is an incredibly difficult decision for every professional sportsman and woman and Ian deserves a huge amount of credit for making this call whilst he still had another year remaining on his contract.

“We will use this opportunity to rebuild by further developing our young, homegrown players whilst also attracting talented players with a hunger and determination to win.”

More to follow

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.