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Pietersen hails Bell maturity

Ian Bell received fulsome praise from Kevin Pietersen after anchoring England’s bid to secure a substantial lead in the first Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

Bell battled to 95 from 228 balls on a gripping third day, his unbroken stand of 108 with Stuart Broad lifting the hosts to 326 for six and a lead of 261.

Having arrived at the crease following the termination of Pietersen’s 110-run alliance with Alastair Cook, England’s number five eschewed risk to defy Australia on a slow and dusty pitch.

"He has proven why we think he is a fantastic player. He has come out there and played a very mature innings on quite a tough wicket," said Pietersen.

"We know how good Belly is. He is backed incredibly well in our dressing room."

 

Although England appeared to claim the upper hand through Bell and Broad’s lengthy stand, which began just before tea, there will be no complacency in the home ranks.

"I would be foolish to say we have got enough," Pietersen added.

"Cricket is a funny game and who knows where we will get to. You never know whether you’re in the ascendancy, but I think we’d rather be the batting team at the moment with 260 in our sheds."

Elaborating on his own hundred stand with Cook, Pietersen continued: "It was important for Chef and I to set a foundation for our players to go out and play today. 

"It needed old heads I think, to just try and calm the dressing room down and I think Chef and I tried to use a lot of experience.

"He (Cook) is peerless the way he goes about his business. It rubs off amongst the rest of the players."

Peter Siddle bemoaned the failure to dismiss Bell early after the Warwickshire batsman frustrated Australia with his gritty knock.

"He batted well today, all credit to him," Siddle said. "He dug in at a time when they needed someone to stand up and we couldn’t crack him early, which is what we would have liked to have done.

"It was a long day. We were hoping to get a couple more early wickets and put pressure on, but it was a good partnership in the end.

"We couldn’t get that breakthrough in the last session which was disappointing. We will sleep on it tonight and get ready for tomorrow morning."

With England taking a 261-run advantage into day four, the tourists may have to pull off the highest successful chase in Nottingham, the current record of 284 having been set when England defeated New Zealand nine years ago.

Siddle believes his side are still capable of pulling off a victory, adding: "I think we are still in a very good position.

"There are two days to play and there are four wickets we need to get so tomorrow morning we will be fresh and ready to go.

"The first hour is key for us and if we can crack it open early and restrict their score, then we can go about our business.

"The wicket has shown it is a beautiful wicket to bat on. We need to get these four wickets and give ourselves every chance to take our time and look at getting whatever target we need to get."

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