England hero Ian Bell has named Australia duo Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath and Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal as the ‘toughest’ bowlers he faced.
Bell came up against Australia legends Warne and McGrath during the 2005 and 2006-07 Ashes series.
Warne and McGrath are two of the best bowlers in history, having taken 1,001 and 944 wickets respectively during their brilliant careers.
Ajmal, meanwhile, took 447 wickets in 212 matches for Pakistan as he established himself as one of the most successful spinners in the world in the post-Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan era.
Ajmal was particularly prolific during Pakistan’s whitewash win over England in 2012, taking 24 wickets in three matches in the UAE and dismissing Bell four times.
Asked to name the toughest bowlers he faced during his international career, Bell said: ‘Whenever I am asked this, I say Warne and McGrath together because cricket is all about partnerships.
‘If someone is bowling well at one end but badly at the other, then there is no pressure on the batsman.
‘But if I had to pick only one, I would still say Ajmal in the UAE was as hard as it gets.
‘I think he got me out a few times in the nets as well, during my time with Islamabad United.’
Bell, who scored more than 13,000 runs for England, also admitted he found Muralitharan – the most prolific wicket-taker in history – ‘easier to play’ than Ajmal.
‘I found Muralitharan, who has 800 Test wickets, easier to play,’ he added on Islamabad United’s YouTube channel.
‘Everyone has their individual feelings and all bowlers are different. I felt the longer I was at the crease, I could start to pick Murali. Whereas, with Ajmal, the longer I was there, the worse it used to get.
‘The quality of spin that we played in that series was right up there with some of the best that I have played.
‘Ajmal was at his absolute peak. As a batting unit, we really struggled to pick him. [Abdur] Rehman bowled beautifully as well.
‘Even speaking to KP [Kevin Pietersen], who doesn’t admit this very often, he didn’t have a lot of answers in that series at all.’
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