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Ashes tours are the pinnacle - Bell

Ian Bell can barely hide his excitement ahead of the second part of the year’s back-to-back Ashes series.

England are targeting to make history Down Under, chasing a fourth consecutive success over Australia for the first time since the 19th Century.

Bell has played in all three of the victories and won four of the five Ashes contests he has appeared in since his debut in 2005.

His performances in the summer saw him named the man of the series as England beat their rivals 3-0 to retain the urn once again.

And the 31-year-old cannot wait for his sixth instalment of "the toughest cricket you can play" to begin.

"As an Englishman, it's the best tour you can come on,” he said. "Both sets of supporters will be excited. That's what you play cricket for.

“It's the most intense cricket, the toughest cricket you can play, so that's what we're really excited about.

“We all fully expect a real competitive series, and a great atmosphere at the grounds between both teams."

England’s preparations go up a notch this week with the first warm-up game against a Western Australia Chairman's XI getting under way on Thursday.

With a number of new faces in the squad who have all been desperate to impress and stake a claim for a place in the starting XI, there have been some extremely competitive training sessions.

Bell welcomes the spirit in the camp and has stressed the importance of having good strength in depth for an Ashes series, with memories fresh of a series-ending injury suffered by Stuart Broad midway through the last tour of Australia.

“We’ve been ramping up for that first game,” Bell continued. “We know a five-match Test series is a lot and we’re going to need the whole squad.

“Like we saw last time we were out here we had a couple of injuries. The guys have to make sure they’re prepared even if they don’t get picked for the first test.”

Bell has faced Warwickshire team-mate Rankin in the nets and has backed the giant seamer to make an impression during the winter.

“Physically he’s quite an intimidating guy, he’s a big unit, he’s strong, he’s fit and he can bowl good pace,” said Bell.

“He’s a real good competitor and if he gets the opportunity I’m sure he’ll be raring to go. If we do have any pace in the Test wickets I’m sure he’ll be able to get the most out of that.”

To view photos from the England side's training session today in Perth, click here.

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