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Bell optimistic over England prospects

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Ian Bell

Ian Bell insisted England's 260 all out, of which he made 76, is not a "million miles away from a par score" at the Gabba

Ian Bell believes England can benefit from the unseasonal conditions in Brisbane to force their way back into the first Ashes Test.

The tourists endured a lacklustre first day of the series as birthday boy Peter Siddle’s six wickets, including a hat-trick, restricted them to 260 all out at the Gabba. In reply, Australia were 25 without loss at stumps.

On an unusually cool day in Queensland, which has experienced plentiful rain of late, Siddle and his fellow seamers took advantage of conditions that encouraged swing to put the hosts on top.

Bell, who top-scored for England with 76, is sure Andrew Strauss was correct to bat first at a ground where that is the norm, partly because the pitch is likely to dry out tomorrow and have more pace.

“It was the right decision to bat but it did a bit today. It was probably a good toss (for Ricky Ponting) to lose. Hopefully [the pitch] will quicken up tomorrow," he said.

“We’re not a million miles away from a par score. It was a slow wicket and a decent day to bowl - it swung all day, which is a little bit unusual.

“There are some disappointed guys but it’s day one of an Ashes series. We’ve got an opportunity for our taller ballers to come in and hit the pitch hard tomorrow. If it quickens up a little bit we’ll be in the game.”

Bell, who also led the way for England last week when he scored 192 in victory over Australia A, insists Strauss’ side are still full of confidence after a previously ideal start to the tour.

He was not alone in continuing impressive batting form as opener Alastair Cook also delivered an important half-century.

“We can draw on a lot on what we’ve done in our preparation,” Bell added. “There was some good cricket in that.

“It was good to see Cooky get some runs. There we periods when we played particularly well.”

Peter Siddle, Aleem Dar, Brad Haddin, Stuart Broad & Ian Bell

Bell can only look on as Peter Siddle completes a hat-trick in "a great spell of bowling" that "turned the day on its head"

Bell was naturally pleased with his own innings, which occupied 131 balls and contained eight fours.

“It’s nice to make a contribution today to get us to a half-decent score,” he said.

“I hope I can carry on through the series now. I’m full of confidence, and we’re all excited about a big series.

“I want to get stuck in through this series and get some knocks under some real pressure.”

“These are the days you enjoy playing Test cricket. Going out in front of a full house at the Gabba is pretty special.”

Bell paid tribute to the input of England consultant batting coach Graham Gooch towards his fine form over the last year.

“Graham Gooch has really helped my cricket. He has put some things into my game and hopefully I can carry on like this," he enthused.

“The experience I have gained over the last couple of years I have put into my game recently."

Bell and Cook led a recovery from a precarious position at 125 for four by adding 72 for the fifth wicket before Siddle’s three wickets in as many balls.

“We felt pretty good as a partnership, ticking along,” Bell revealed. “But a great spell of bowling turned the day on its head a bit."

Bell was a powerless non-striker as Siddle had Cook caught at slip for 67, bowled Matt Prior and trapped Stuart Broad in front.

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook's half-century heartened Bell. They added 72 for the fifth wicket after coming together at 125 for four

“I tried to pass on some info, but it probably wasn’t too good by the looks of it,” he said.

"But the atmosphere was unbelievable, the noise and everything. Today was something really special to play in.

"Siddle bowled a great spell - two great deliveries first up to two new batsmen. But we’re still in good spirits.”

Resuming tomorrow with a ball that is only seven overs old, Bell knows England can limit Australia to a similar score on day two.

“We’re going to have to come back tomorrow and hit the ground running in the first hour and make sure we win it,” he anticipated.

“We’re going to come out scrapping tomorrow morning. It hasn’t all gone to plan today but we’ll come back strong.”

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