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Still time for Ashes push - Bell

England Lions

Watch England Lions skipper Ian Bell talk to the press on this player

Ian Bell says he and Steve Harmison still believe they can regain their England spots for the Ashes battle with Australia, as the Warwickshire batsman gears up to captain England Lions.

Bell, 27, and Harmison, 30, have found themselves out of the picture during the early part of the campaign but have responded with runs and wickets respectively for Warwickshire and Durham.

Ian Bell

Ian Bell, now captaining England Lions, hits the deck during his knock of 27 against West Indies earlier this summer

Now the duo will have another opportunity to stake a claim with the Lions in the four-day clash with Ricky Ponting’s side starting at New Road tomorrow, Australia’s final game before the opening npower Test at Cardiff on July 8.

“When you have played a considerable amount for your country, when you are not there it hurts and you miss what you used to do a hell of a lot,” said Bell.

“You are doing everything you can to get back into that team and myself and Steve Harmison are no different to that. We are both desperate to get back into an England shirt.

“We are both in good form in county cricket and this game for the Lions is another opportunity to show much we want to get back into an England shirt.

“For me, when I got back from the West Indies, I had to put the Ashes to the back of my mind. I had to get the runs in county cricket to give myself a chance to be part of the Ashes and I’ve done that.

“The next few months is important for me to keep in good form. If an injury, or lack of form occurs amongst one of the batsmen, I’ve got to make sure I’m in the best possible form if I get an opportunity.”

Bell also had first-hand experience of Harmison’s renaissance during the recent LV= County Championship clash with Durham.

He said: “He got five wickets in that game and I felt Steve was back to his best and in seriously good rhythm, swinging the ball at very good pace. It was hard work to face him.”

Ian Bell

Bell salutes his fifty at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the final Test of the whitewash Down Under in 2006-07

Bell insists the Lions will be more focused on producing their own best form rather than worrying about how the tourists might perform.

He said: “It is Australia’s last opportunity before Cardiff and and we expect them to come out as if it is a Test match.

“That is the kind of preparation we would go into when on tour so I fully expect they are looking for a really tough match and, with the side we have got at the minute, everyone is in pretty good form. That is why they have been picked.

“Can we stop them getting momentum? I don’t think we can worry too much about what they are going to do. We know an Australian team are always going to come out and play aggressive cricket.

“We want to go out and play the brand of cricket that England are starting to play.

“These guys in this side will go into the game with a lot of confidence and not worrying too much about it being Australia and just playing the way they have done the last few months.”

Bell and his team-mates will take the opportunity to have a close look at Aussie paceman Mitchell Johnson, a key figure during their recent series win in South Africa.

Bell said: “I played against him at Under-19 level. For me, he is a guy in form. He is bowling particularly well at the moment it is a good opportunity for guys who haven’t seen too much of him to get a chance out there and face him.

“We have seen bits and pieces from South Africa. Again the main thing from the guys in there is we are not too worried about what Australia are doing at the moment.

“But Johnson is a guy full of confidence and a guy we will have to play very well against.”

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