By Rob Barnett at Lord's
Ian Bell spoke briefly of his satisfaction at his third ton in three Ashes Tests, but Australia’s outstanding bowler on day one of the second Investec match was more forthcoming about Bell’s achievement.
Ryan Harris, who took two wickets to leave England 28 for three after winning the toss and dismissed Jonathan Trott for 58, could not dislodge Bell.
The Warwickshire batsman was eventually one of three late victims for the occasional leg-spin of Steven Smith as the hosts closed on 289 for seven on another enthralling day in this series.
Bell’s 109 matched his score at Trent Bridge last week and was a reminder of his form in the 2010/11 Ashes when he scored 329 runs, including 115 at Sydney, at an average of 65.8.
“The way he batted in Nottingham, he batted time,” Harris said. “At times he gets a bit slow but it’s perfect the way he needs to play.
“We spoke about it, our batters modeling themselves a bit on him and taking their time. He did the same today. I thought he batted well.
“When he is in this form - he’s going well - we found out last time in Australia he’s hard to get out and he values his wicket.
“He’s a guy that I think you have to get early. He’s batted well and got a good start and built on that very well.”
Bell was pleased to contribute again against Australia, but is more concerned that England post a formidable total on an ideal surface for batting.
“That’s what I want to do as much as I can,” he said of century-making. “I’ve done it a little bit over the last couple of years now so it’s nice again to come out and do that.
“But the important thing is, like I said, to try and get as big a first-innings score as we can on a pretty good wicket.”
Bell added 99 with Jonathan Trott and 144 with Jonny Bairstow, who was bowled by a Peter Siddle no-ball on 21 and, having almost walked off before the TV umpire reprieved him, returned to make 67.
“He did very well,” Bell said. “It was a good knock for us today. Like I said, the pressure out there, and for a young lad to come out and play like that, lovely shots down the ground.
“He composed himself well in a tricky situation when you’ve been knocked over and you come back. He did well to gather himself.”
Given England were three down inside six overs, Bell was content with their close-of-play score.
“We’d take where we are tonight having been three down early this morning,” he revealed.
“It’s a real good day's Test cricket, a real fight all the way through. The important thing for us now is to try and win the first hour against the new ball.”
Smith’s late scalps have dented England but nevertheless encouraged Bell that the pitch will aid Graeme Swann.
“I guess it’s a good sign that there’s a bit of spin from straight, which is nice,” he said.
Michael Clarke turned to Smith, who previously had four Test wickets at an average of 70.75, with first-choice spinner Ashton Agar off the field nursing a sore left hip.
Harris added: “For Steve Smith to come on and do what he did was great. We all know he can bowl. It’s just a matter of giving him a bit of confidence to be able to do it.”