Bell backs England to shrug off injury and weather woe

ENGLAND batsman Ian Bell insists his team will be ready for next week’s first Ashes Test, despite injury and weather concerns having taken their toll on preparations since they arrived in Australia.

Bell hit a century in England’s opening tour match but watched in frustration from the pavilion as persistent rainfall meant just 31 overs were bowled in the final three days of their second warm-up contest against Australia A.

England go into their final pre-Ashes contest against a Cricket Australia Invitational XI tonight without wicketkeeper Matt Prior who has a torn left calf muscle and is a serious doubt for next week’s series opener in Brisbane.

Batsman Kevin Pietersen is also struggling with a knee injury and England have been forced to do much of their training indoors, yet Bell is unperturbed.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in the team that can cope with that [disrupted preparations] and we’ll be ready for Brisbane,” he said. “If we focus too much on that, it can get in your bubble a little bit.

“Ideally it’s good to have time in the middle, it’s always better to spend time out there than in the nets. I don’t know if there’s a right amount of time, but if you can get some runs under your belt it gives you a lot of confidence going into the series.

“But it’s more about the mental side and being as prepared as you possibly can.”

In Prior’s absence Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow will wear the gloves for the final warm-up match.

And while Bell is confident Prior will be fit to play his part in the first Test, he knows Bairstow will benefit from match practice.

“Matt is a key part of our success over the last few years and obviously we want him to recover as quickly as possible,” he added.

“I’ve got every faith that he’ll be fully-fit for Brisbane.

“But it’s good for Jonny, in this game, to get out there with the gloves on in an England shirt.”

THE ASHES

Tour schedule
First Test: 21-25 November, Brisbane
Second Test: 5-9 December, Adelaide
Third Test: 13-17 December, Perth
Fourth Test: 26-30 December, Melbourne
Fifth Test: 3-7 January, Sydney