London, Nov 20 (IANS) Veteran batsman Ian Bell has vowed to reclaim his place in the England side after being dropped for the four-Test tour of South Africa which starts next month.

Bell, a five-time Ashes winner, was the shock ommision when the 16-man England squad was announced on Thursday. “I’m absolutely gutted not to be selected for the tour to South Africa. I certainly feel I could have contributed out there and have been working tirelessly to get in the best possible condition for the tour,” Bell was quoted as saying by the Daily Express on Friday.

“I’m going to enjoy a winter break with my family for the first time in 11 years and come back determined to win my place back.” The 33-year-old, who has played 118 Test matches, has been going through a run of poor form for the last 18 months and has not scored a century in 23 innings. His last century came against the West Indies in Antigua eight months ago and he has managed just four half-centuries since.

 

England pacer Stuart Broad, who made it to the squad, backed Bell, asserting that Bell has the talent and experience to bounce back. “He will be very determined to work hard and get back in. We know in cricket that opportunities do arise and, although he is not in this Test tour to South Africa, he won’t see that as the end of his career,” Broad said. “He will be working hard after a bit of a break to improve, put runs on the board and get back in this England side. You can be one injury away from getting your spot back and he will work on his game. I am sure he won’t rest. He will be very focused,” he added.

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