England batsman Ian Bell admits he is relishing the chance to avenge his Ashes misery against Australia. Bell averaged just 32 in 18 Ashes Tests before the current series and became something of a whipping boy for the Australians,with Shane Warne taking several opportunities to taunt him for his perceived lack of grit. But the Warwickshire star has finally matured into Englands middle-order lynchpin and Australia have been unable to extend their dominance against him.
Bell has scored a century in the last three Ashes Tests,including vital innings in the victories at Trent Bridge and Lords. From my first couple of Ashes series I knew I had to improve on that, Bell 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 weve needed it. I feel pretty confident right now and it is good to be putting it together in an Ashes series which is what Ive wanted to do.
I dont 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.
With England already 2-0 up in the series,they can retain the Ashes with a win or a draw in the third Test at Old Trafford next week.
Man for manchester
And Bell,who has always found Old Trafford to be a happy hunting ground,cant wait to punish the Australian bowlers again. He has scored two hundreds and a 97 in five Manchester Tests,at an average of 87. But if there is anything Bell takes from the epic drawn Test against Australia in 2005 — the last Ashes match played at Old Trafford — it is that the tourists will be determined not to surrender without a fight.
I know that the Tests Ive been involved in there, Bell said. The 2005 Test was a game we were targeting another win,but Australia battled right to the end. They were excited about getting the draw,so you felt a little shift in the series because they were happy to get out of it.