Bell: Batting became easier with escalating scrutiny over my place

 
Ross McLean
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RESURGENT England batsman Ian Bell revealed that escalating scrutiny over his place in the side provided the clarity of judgement which prompted a return to form during last week’s third Investec Ashes Test.

Bell scored 53 and 65 not out as England dispatched Australia by eight wickets at Edgbaston to take a 2-1 series lead, knocks that were completely at odds with his previous 12 Test innings in which he made just 128 runs. England had tinkered with their batting line-up in the wake of their harrowing 405-run thrashing in the second Test at Lord’s, with Gary Ballance axed and Bell promoted to No3.

“If anything, 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,” said Bell.

“I was going to go out there and give it absolutely everything and what will be, will be. It’s been really tough. Sometimes you don’t know where the next run is coming from and I did feel like that at times.”

England’s leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson will miss this week’s fourth Test at Trent Bridge due to a side strain, although Bell has backed his replacement – seamers Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt have been added to a squad which also contains Mark Wood – to seize their opportunity. Bell added: “We were never going to win this series with just 11 players, it was going to be a squad effort. We’re going to have to dig deep.”