London, July 19: Indian coach Duncan Fletcher may just prove to be an invaluable resource for India given the fact that he had guided England for 8 years. Indeed, inside information on several English batsmen could give the visitors quite an insight into the former's strengths and weaknesses.
But even though England middle order batsman Ian Bell partially espouses this theory, he maintains that England are a very different side to the one Fletcher thinks he knows. Bell stands by his opinion, even though Fletcher has kept up a close rapport with the team even after handing over the reins to Andy Flower.
"It's great for India, Duncan Fletcher knows English cricket very well and was very successful over here," Bell told a leading cricket website. "He knows Straussy well, he knows myself, he knows Kevin Pietersen. I'm sure we've changed as characters and matured since he's been away, but he'll have a good insight and there's no doubt that's a massive plus for India.
However, Bell feels that all sides today are accustomed to doing their homework in analysing the opposition inside out.
"But in world cricket now information, strengths and weakness, everyone knows about them. We have people working non-stop at Loughborough on stats, percentages and stuff like that. There's no hiding place anymore, so while it's an advantage for India to have him everyone has information about opposition."
It is as yet unknown whether Fletcher has gone as far as compiling a dossier on each of the English players. But Bell concedes that he knows how to come up with plans of prime efficacy and incisiveness. "He'll know everything about what England have. In 2005 he was a massive part of the plans we had for the Australians - like going round the wicket to Adam Gilchrist - and he's got an unbelievable cricket brain. That's his massive strength. We know he's an incredible coach."
Bell made his bones as an international cricketer under the tutelage of Fletcher in the middle of the last decade. He has since grown and matured as a primary cog in the English machinery. He is averaging over 300 in Test this year and feels confident of carrying that prime sort of form in to the series versus India.
"I don't think I've spent enough time at the crease to lose form," he said. "In one-day cricket I was doing a different role and to be honest I feel fresh and mentally read to go. I just want to pick up the form I've had for the last couple of years."
In conclusion, Bell said that his team is not over-awed by India, even though they may be fielding their strongest side. With Zaheer Khan , Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar back in the side, defeating India will be a tall order but not impossible, opines Bell.
"We respect them, but you can't over-respect them. You have to have the confidence that you can beat them," he said.