London:Ian Bell hammered home his Ashes credentials on the first day of the English county championship on Wednesday with an unbeaten 84 for Warwickshire against Somerset at Taunton.
Bell is battling former England skipper Michael Vaughan for the number three spot in the Test team and his innings was perfectly timed coming on the day that Andy Flower was named as new national team director.
The Warwickshire player struck 13 fours as he linked with Jim Troughton to steer his team from 66-3 to 189-3 at the close.
Former England bowler Dominic Cork enjoyed a flying start to his Hampshire career with 4-10 as Worcestershire were skittled out for just 132 at the Rose Bowl.
Kabir Ali then picked up two early wickets as Hampshire were reduced to 10 for three in reply before recovering to 76 for four at the close thanks mainly to Jimmy Adams, who was unbeaten on 33.
South African Andrew Hall was unbeaten on 95 as Northamptonshire reached 297 for six against Leicestershire in Division Two.
Hall struck 11 boundaries and shared a 163-run stand for the sixth wicket with David Willey, who made a half-century on debut.