The Sunday Leader

Bell Enjoying Ashes Spotlight

Ian Bell is relishing his lead role in the Ashes series after a difficult start to his international career against Australia. Bell struggled with the bat in England’s 2005 Ashes triumph, scoring just 171 in 10 innings with just two half-centuries coming in the draw at Old Trafford.

The Warwickshire batsman averaged just 32 in 18 Tests against Australia before this series, but he ended this barren run in style by scoring centuries in the last three Ashes Tests.

Bell’s innings have helped England secure a 2-0 lead with victories at Trent Bridge and Lord’s and he is glad to be performing on the biggest stage.
“From my first couple of (Ashes) series I knew I had to improve on that,” he said.

“The (Australian) team I started against was pretty good, so it is nice to be putting my hand up now as a senior player when we’ve needed it.

“I feel pretty confident right now and it is good to be putting it together in an Ashes series which is what I’ve wanted to do.

“I don’t really feel too bad about the previous series but it is nice to be able to do things when the team need it most and scoring hundreds is what you want to do.

“To have three now against Australia is exactly where I want to be.”

England can secure the Ashes at Old Trafford next week and the venue has proved a happy hunting ground for Bell, who has scored two hundreds and a 97 in five Manchester Tests, at an average of 87. But he is expecting a touch scrap as the tourists attempt to keep the series alive.

“I know that the Test matches I’ve been involved in there, we’ve got a good record so it is a good place for England to go to now,” Bell said.

“The 2005 Test was a game we were looking at (targeting) another win, but Australia battled right to the end.

“They were so excited about getting the draw, so you felt a little shift in the series right there because they were happy to get out of it.

“It was an intense game as all Ashes games are and I would expect another tough game coming up.

“Coming into this series it has been about contributing to the team and at Lord’s we had to work hard in different periods of the game and we got our rewards at the end.

“It has been hard work, but these couple of days will give us a nice break from the cricket so we’re right for Old Trafford.”

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