Bell: Ashes work starts now
Ian Bell has earmarked England's tour to New Zealand as the start of preparations for their attempt to regain the Ashes next year.
As one of the 12 players used in the stunning 2005 success, the Warwickshire batsman knows only too well the importance of momentum going into the 2009 home series against the powerful Australians.
In the build-up to their 2005 triumph, England won five Test series in a row starting with the historic victory in West Indies just over a year before they faced Australia.
With a similar schedule ahead of them as they look towards the Ashes, Bell knows how important it will be for England to bounce back from consecutive Test series defeats and succeed at one-day and Test level in New Zealand.
“The major goal for me and the team is the 2009 Ashes and we've got a lot of big cricket on the way to that and for all of us it's about building the momentum for that,” stressed Bell.
“When we won the Ashes in 2005, we started to build up that momentum before then and got used to the habit of winning and, as we sit here now in New Zealand, we want to do that again.
“It's important that England are winning matches now. Looking at the fixtures we've got coming up, this is one step towards trying to peak at the right time.
“From now until the Ashes in 2009, we've really got to be fully into where we're going as an England cricket team.”
England's preparations for next year's Ashes start with Test and one-day series in New Zealand, swiftly followed by a home series against the same opposition and then South Africa later in the summer.
Their winter challenges include tours to India and West Indies before returning home for a gruelling 2009 summer which includes the Twenty20 World Cup and the Ashes series.
England`s preparations to face the Black Caps began in earnest on Tuesday with an intense first training session on New Zealand soil under the supervision of new fitness coach Marcus Church.
He put the one-day squad through a series of fitness drills designed to quickly overcome the effects of the long journey from Heathrow Airport.
Coach Peter Moores then supervised a two hour net and gym session as England ready themselves for the first of two back-to-back warm-up one-day matches against Canterbury on Saturday.
Captain Paul Collingwood sat out the majority of the session after suffering a minor lower back spasm during the fitness drills, but England expect him to recover in time to practice on Wednesday.