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Practice matches true Tests - Bell

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Ian Bell is determined that England will treat their three warm-up games ahead of the Ashes series as Test matches.

The tourists face Western Australia, South Australia and Australia A before the first Test at Brisbane, which begins on November 25.

The trio of contests have been scheduled to give England ample opportunity to become accustomed to conditions Down Under, with one more first-class game ahead of the Test opener than four years ago.

Bell, who arrived in Perth this morning with the rest of the Ashes squad, told “In the past what you see as warm-up games I think have changed now.

“I think we’re going to come up against three teams in Australia who want to beat us. We have to see them as Test matches. If we don’t and we’re not on our game, then we’re going to get beaten.

“We certainly don’t want to start off the tour like that and I think it’s important that we see every match that we play as a Test match. That’s the massively important thing. If we have got our mental side right, we’ll perform well.”

England’s warm-up contests not only give them the chance to build momentum, but also provide individuals with the opportunity to cement their place in or stake a claim for the Test side.

Ian Bell

Ian Bell, who said he feels part of "a real tight group", signs an autograph on England's arrival at Perth Airport this morning

Bell sees such competition for places as a sign that the tourists can emulate Australia’s dominance of world cricket during the past two decades.

“It’s a real tight group,” he revealed. “We’re lucky at the minute that we have a group as we do, that train hard, enjoy each other’s company.

“There’s competition for places as well. To have that tight-knit group as well but also that competition for places is a good place to be.

“I think Australia had that competition for places for a long time and that’s why they were number one in the world for a long period of time.

“If we can keep working towards that, keep working on the team work and the team spirit as much as we do on our own game in the nets then this team is going forward.”

England go into the Ashes ranked fourth in the ICC’s Test table - one place ahead of their hosts.

Bell is encouraged by the progress the tourists have made in the last year and a half, when they have defeated West Indies and regained the Ashes at home, drawn in South Africa, beaten Bangladesh home and away and Pakistan at home in Tests.

“This series isn’t going to make us number one in the world but it will make us that step closer,” he added. “I think over the last 18 months our cricket has really improved in all the disciplines of the game.

“To win the Ashes again at home was fantastic and if we can go that one step further and win them in Australia (it) would be a huge step forward to where Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss want to take this team.”

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