BIRMINGHAM: England batsman Ian Bell expects Australia to come back “hard if not harder” in the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge after an embarrassing loss at Edgbaston.
Bell, returning to form, made two fifties on his Warwickshire home ground as England beat Australia by eight wickets inside three days to win the third Test and go 2-1 up in the series.
It was fine recovery by Alastair Cook’s side after England suffered a 405-run thrashing in the second Test at Lord’s.
That match saw Australia bounce back from a convincing 169-run loss in the first Test in Cardiff.
Such has been the see-saw nature of this campaign that 33-year-old Bell, a veteran of 113 Tests, refused to take anything for granted when the fourth match in the series starts at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge ground on Thursday.
“We fully expect Australia to come back hard, if not harder,” Bell told British radio.
“We have to front up again like we did [at Edgbaston],” he added, with England yet to win two Tests in a row in 2015.
Bell’s position was called into question after two low scores at Lord’s left him with a meagre average of 20.84 in seven Tests this year.
But rather than drop him, England’s selectors promoted Bell to number three in place of Gary Ballance, left out after an equally poor run of form.
Bell, who responded with innings of 53 and 63, said the speculation about his place had been liberating rather than burdensome.
“When things started to get to that point where people were saying this might be my last Test match, I actually got into a simpler, much better mindset,” he said.
“I was going to go out there and give it absolutely everything and what will be, will be.”
Bell, who at one stage had scored just 45 runs in seven innings added: “It’s been really tough. You go in and out of form, and sometimes you don’t know where the next run’s coming from and I honestly did feel like that at times.”
The Warwickshire stalwart said the support from his home crowd had helped end his personal slump.
“It’s nice to come to Edgbaston, we’ve had incredible support as a team, but as a local player I felt like when I walked out to bat in particular on day one it was the best applause I’ve ever got in my career, and I felt that the whole crowd was with me and desperate for me to do well.”
Some of the gloss of England’s win was taken off by a side injury to James Anderson which ruled him out playing at Trent Bridge a ground where the paceman has enjoyed phenomenal success in Test cricket.
But while losing their all-time leading wicket-taker is a setback, Bell said it was always unlikely that England would get through the series with an unchanged attack.
And having seen how fast bowler Steven Finn took a Test-best six for 79 at Edgbaston, after replacing the injured Mark Wood for his first match at this level since 2013, Bell was confident one of the back-up seamers including the fit-again Wood could shine in Anderson’s absence.
“[In the 2010/11 Ashes, which England won 3-1] we lost (Stuart) Broad quite early in the series and it gave Tim Bresnan an opportunity, it gave Chris Tremlett an opportunity.
“We were never going to win this series with just 11 players, it was going to be a squad effort and that’s what experience tells me.”