Struggling Bell retains the confidence of his team-mates

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Jonathan Trott has backed England team-mate Ian Bell to bounce back from his run of poor form.

Trott shared a 197-run stand with fellow centurion Andrew Strauss on day two of England’s final pre-Test warm-up against a Sri Lankan Development XI, but concerns over Bell’s form remain.

He has plenty of credit in the bank after scoring five Test centuries in 2011 – including a career-best 235 against India – but has struggled badly since the turn of the year. Bell had a top score of 29 in six innings against Pakistan, was dropped from the one-day squad and followed a duck against a Board XI last week with 14 yesterday.

That his soft dismissal came in a match dominated by batsmen – Trott and Strauss both retiring out after Chamara Silva’s first-innings 163 – simply increased the focus on him. But Trott has no fears over his Warwickshire colleague.

“In the 12 months before the UAE tour (against Pakistan), Ian was probably our leading run-scorer with Alastair Cook,” said Trott.

“He’s obviously had a few bad Tests, which is disappointing, but he’ll want to put that right. I’ve played a lot of cricket with him for Warwickshire and England so I know his game pretty well. He looks in good touch.”

The Development XI resume this morning on 44-1, a lead of 203, and Bell will be hoping some bold captaincy from Strauss offers him the chance to bat again today.

Strauss declared with his side still 159 short of their opponents’ mark of 431-6, hoping to set up a run-chase on day three.

If that does occur, England are likely to allow Bell and Kevin Pietersen, who was out for 26, first chance to get some time in the middle.

“I’m sure they might get some time in the second innings,” added Trott. “Both those guys have played a lot of Tests and they’ll be working very hard for England if they get the chance, as well as in the nets before the Test match.

“Both of them have been looking in really good form, but they just haven’t been able to get runs on this trip.”

n English cricket could be boosted by a multi-million pound TV rights deal in Asia, according to England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke.

Clarke, who was recently re-elected unopposed for a third term, revealed he is hoping to secure a lucrative deal and further strengthen the ECB’s already “very strong” financial position.

A TV rights deal with Sky runs until 2017 – with an option to extend beyond that – and Clarke is hopeful a “nine-figure” deal of similar length can be struck on the sub-continent.