Bell eyes Ashes century

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Ian Bell, Michael Clarke & Brad Haddin

Ian Bell, whose gritty 72 gave England a solid start to last year's decisive Ashes Test which they went on to win, said: “I took a lot of confidence from the Oval Test match, that first innings"

England batsman Ian Bell is determined to put right one of the biggest frustrations of his Test career by scoring a hundred against Australia this winter.

Bell has impressed with a new-found mental toughness since returning to the England fold midway through last summer’s Ashes but failed to reach three figures against Ricky Ponting’s side in the three games he played in that series.

That took his Ashes record to 13 Tests without a ton - a blemish he is all too aware of and one that he is focused on eradicating this winter.

“I’ve been ticking things off over the last 18 months that people have been asking of me,” said Bell.

“Against South Africa, arguably one of the best attacks in the world, I seem to be doing it regularly and now I’ve got to put in a performance against Australia.

“Obviously I know that one of the last things I need to do is a hundred against Australia and start scoring heavy runs against them. I’ll be working as hard as I can to do that.

“Hopefully this winter, where I’ve come from in the last 18 months and how hungry I am, it could be the time. I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Bell’s top score against the old enemy is the 87 he made in a losing cause in Perth four years ago but it is the 72 he made on day one of the decisive Brit Insurance Oval Test last year that the 28-year-old is looking to take his inspiration from.

An old criticism of Bell was that he failed to show his best form when his side most needed it but that innings showed the Warwickshire man could post big runs when the pressure was on.

“I don’t think people ever thought ability and talent and shots were ever an issue for me. It was about doing it at the right times,” he continued.

“I took a lot of confidence from the Oval Test match, that first innings. It was probably the first time I’ve ever done it in an Ashes Test, an innings that has shaped the game a little bit.

“Doing that for the first time in an Ashes series gave me a lot of confidence. And then going to South Africa, I know the first Test didn’t go to plan, but from then on I started to do things when people needed it.

“That was a real boost in confidence for me and just what I needed. I worked hard for it - it didn’t just happen overnight and hopefully I can kick on again.”