SOUTHAMPTON, England - Ian Bell smashed a century to lead England to a 114-run win over West Indies on Saturday, but admitted that he had enjoyed a double dose of good fortune.
Bell made 126 as England beat the tourists under the Duckworth/Lewis method in a rain-affected series opener at the Rose Bowl to go 1-0 up in the three-match series ahead of Tuesday's clash at The Oval.
The 30-year-old's innings, the cornerstone of England's 288 for six, came just a day after he'd to have stitches inserted into a chin wound after being struck in the face while batting in the indoor nets.
He was fortunate then and was left thanking his good luck a second time on Saturday when the West Indies were adamant he was out, caught behind for 23 off Ravi Rampaul.
But English umpire Richard Kettleborough rejected the paceman's raucous appeal.
Bell admitted he'd nicked the ball but, with few current batsmen following the example of retired Australia great Adam Gilchrist in 'walking', West Indies' Dwayne Smith said the incident was just part of the game.
"I was quite lucky that all the precautions from the backroom staff yesterday (Friday) got me in a good frame of mind," said Bell of his freak injury.
"It had gone quite deep to the bone. It was weird, because it hurt more by my ear really rather than where it actually hit me."
Bell, asked if he'd edged the ball on 23, admitted: "Yes."
However, Smith - whose 56 opening in place of the injured Chris Gayle was a rare highlight for the tourists - said: "There was a sound but the umpire said 'not out', so we can't do anything about that."
Bell, opening the batting following the one-day retirement of Kevin Pietersen, marked his return to the side with just his second hundred in 109 matches at this level.
But it was his second at the Rose Bowl, having made 126 not out against India in 2007.
Bell finished England's 2-0 Test series win over the West Indies with an unbeaten 76 in rain-marred drawn third Test at his Warwickshire home ground concluded Monday.
"I felt I was in pretty good nick by the end of that Test series, so it was nice to go at the top of the order and play some proper cricket shots. I didn't try to slog - which probably in the past I've been guilty of doing," he said.
England are the world's top-ranked Test nation but they've struggled by comparison in one-day cricket and exited last year's World Cup after a 10-wicket quarter-final thrashing by Sri Lanka in Colombo.
However, this was their fifth successive one-day win after a 4-0 series sweep of Pakistan which saw Alastair Cook, their captain in 50-over cricket, score back-to-back hundreds in Abu Dhabi before Pietersen followed up with two consecutive centuries in Dubai.
"We have talked about our game plan and it's certainly that one of the top four goes on and scores runs," said Cook, out for nought on Saturday before Bell and Warwickshire colleague Jonathan Trott shared a second-wicket stand of 108.
West Indies had far higher hopes for this series as opposed to the Tests, although they suffered a setback when Gayle, arguably the world's best one-day opener, was ruled out of Saturday's match with a shin injury.
However, Cook said: "They're a very dangerous side and that's why we shouldn't take them lightly again or also diminish how well we played."
Smith was playing his first ODI in more than two years and the 29-year-old, who featured for the Mumbai Indians in the recent Twenty20 Indian Premier League, said: "I've got older and really understand my own game now. I go out there and I'm just free."
The Bajan, who played the last of his 10 Tests six years ago, added: "I think I still have a lot more to do if I want to get back into the Test side.
"I need to go out there and keep proving myself each game."