17/04/2024
Tasmania's Gabe Bell has been a vital part of his side's success across the 2023/24 Sheffield Shield season - Image: Tasmania Tigers

Tasmania's Gabe Bell has been a vital part of his side's success across the 2023/24 Sheffield Shield season - Image: Tasmania Tigers

Having claimed 32 wickets from six Sheffield Shield contests, Tasmanian paceman Gabe Bell might be excused for admiring his handy work from the 2023/24 season so far.

The 28 year old has been a revelation for his side this summer, standing up to lead a bowling attack devoid of its usual stars.

On the back of the departures of former Test stars, Peter Siddle (Victoria) and Jackson Bird (New South Wales) in the off season, as well as injuries to Riley Meredith, Tasmania hardly had cause for optimism at the start of its campaign.

Fast forward to February and the Tigers sit first on the table. A key factor in such a rise has been the contribution of Bell, who sits third in the competition for wickets taken.

Individual accolades are an afterthought for the Launceston native, however, and securing a place in the Shield final with a top two finish remains paramount.

“I’m trying to do my role for the team and if that pays dividends to the team’s success, that’s awesome,” Bell said on Thursday.

“It’s always good (to have) personal success, but team success is obviously much more important. Just to contribute to a really strong win is all I’m looking forward to doing.

“You can’t win a final in February, so we’ve got to take it to the end of March and hopefully still be in the top two.”

Bell’s damaging form was on full display in Tasmania’s recent trip to Queensland.

In a player of the match performance, the quick took 10 wickets in a game for the first time in his career (10/79), including a personal best 6/39 in the second innings.

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Such a sharp rise, he believes, is owed in part to an ever growing confidence born out of opportunity.

Seeing the gaps left by the aforementioned names, Bell has taken his chance with both hands, not only cementing his place in the side but playing a decisive role in its fortunes.

“I think going into a season knowing you’re going to be a good chance to play a fair bit of cricket gives you a bit of confidence in not having to put too much pressure on yourself going into games,” he said.

“Just that confidence and peace of mind to go into a season being pretty confident you’ll play a bit of cricket if you do well, that’s been big for me.

“We talk a lot about momentum. We feel like we’ve got a lot at the moment, coming off a good win up in Queensland. So, (we’ll) just keep trying to do what we do really well, take the game on and be really positive.

“That’s what we’ve really tried to do this season, keep being positive and not back away from our plans.”

As stated, attention remains on ensuring Tasmania makes its first red ball final since 2013.

With a favorable schedule that sees the side play the final three games of the season at Blundstone Arena, this goal appears highly attainable.

In Bell’s eyes, the Tigers are ready to march towards the title, starting with Western Australia on Friday. Though he will miss the clash with injury, he believes the brand of cricket the squad is playing will stand up.

“I think we’re pretty confident. We play here really well, so no questions why we can’t do it again,” he stated.

“We always set pretty high goals on the season ahead. I don’t think we’ve ever underestimated ourselves, but I think we’ve just done exactly what we’ve tried to do and it’s paid dividends.

“Three games here to finish the year, we’re really confident we can play really good cricket here and we know other teams don’t really look forward to coming down here.

“It’s a win-win for us.”

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