Bell: England won’t be left behind

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Published: Thursday 22nd January 2015 by The News Editor

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Ian Bell is confident England’s batsmen can find an answer to Australia’s arsenal of left-arm pacemen.

Quality left-armers are a valuable commodity in one-day cricket and Australia’s two Mitchells – Johnson and Starc – are among the best in the business.

Both men consistently top the 90 miles per hour mark and swing the new ball, making them a formidable challenge for top-order batsmen.

Johnson has been rested for the early part of the current Tri-Series but Starc has stepped up in his absence, taking 10 wickets in two games.

Bell was the first of those victims, lbw to the first ball of the series – though he appeared to get an inside edge.

Starc went on to dismiss James Taylor, Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn, while all-rounder James Faulkner, another southpaw, bagged three wickets of his own in a comfortable home win.

England will attempt to do better against the pair in Hobart on Friday, but the primary aim is to be up to speed by the time the Ashes rivals open the World Cup at the MCG on February 14.

England do not have a single left-arm quick in their squad – Harry Gurney having failed to convince – but have used bowling machines and local club players to enhance preparations.

“We’ve played a lot against left-arm bowling over the last few years so it should be something we get right,” said Bell.

“We prepare for left-arm bowling – Australia potentially have three left-armers – so that goes into your thinking before the game.

“With the facilities you have, there are machines to get the right angle and the swing you want.

“But Mitchell Starc is bowling well at the minute. He bowled really well at the MCG against India and he started off brilliantly against us.

“He’s a class act and we’re going to have to play him well.”

Although England do not possess anyone with the same action, or for that matter pace, as Starc, Bell was keen to stress that the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn do not make for an easy ride in training.

“We’ve got some quality bowlers, so to get through a net session with them is good enough practice,” Bell added.

Bell will arrive at the Bellerive Oval as England’s second highest run-scorer in one-day cricket, just 98 short of Paul Collingwood’s 5,092.

That may come as a surprise given the number of times the 32-year-old has been in and out of the side, as well as being shunted around every position in the top seven.

As recently as last month he was left out of five successive matches in Sri Lanka, but Alastair Cook’s sacking created a vacancy in his preferred opening slot.

Aside from his failure in Sydney it has been a success, with 187 in a warm-up against the Prime Minister’s XI and a classy 88 not out in Tuesday’s win over India.

“I thought I’d get on the trip, as someone with experience who could play a variety of roles, whether it was opening or in the middle,” Bell said.

“But looking back in my time playing one-day cricket for England, my most successful time has been opening the batting. So it was nice to start this tour how I wanted to.

“Opening the batting in those first 10 overs suits my game, certainly in these conditions, where there’s more bounce. You can play off the back foot, front foot, hit it over the field in those first 10.”

Bell may be the elder statesman of the batting line-up, with 10 years of international experience under his belt, but he is still eager to add to his game.

With totals north of 300 becoming increasingly normal, and the likes of South Africa’s AB de Villiers pushing the boundaries yet further, Bell knows he cannot afford to rest on his laurels.

“I’ve tried to work hard, even in Sri Lanka when I wasn’t playing, I was still focusing on trying to get better,” he said.

“When you’re playing for England you’re always trying to get better, not to stand still.

“This game is moving forward, it’s changing all the time, you have to go with that and if you don’t you’re going to get left behind. I’m trying all the time to improve.”

Published: Thursday 22nd January 2015 by The News Editor

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