Bell confident in England methods
Ian Bell insists England will not panic as they look to fight their way back into the Investec Test series with South Africa.
The hosts find themselves 1-0 down in the three-match rubber following a comprehensive innings defeat at the Kia Oval, in which South Africa racked up 637 for two declared.
Bell compiled 55 from 220 deliveries in England’s second innings, but his efforts ultimately proved in vain as the Proteas completed victory with a session to spare.
Next week’s second Test at Headingley Carnegie has therefore become a must-win game for a side beaten in five of its last nine five-day outings.
The fact remains, however, that England are currently the number-one ranked side in Test cricket and Bell retains a strong belief in the methods employed in recent years.
“We're all very proud that we've got to number one and we definitely want to stay there for a long period of time,” said Bell.
“We know this defeat wasn't good enough but we must not go away from things we have done well over a long period. We must look at certain issues that we could have done better.
“It proves to us that no matter where you are ranked you have to keep performing, training hard and doing the right things.
“Opposing teams see us a bit differently now. Maybe they turn up desperately wanting to beat us because we are ranked number one and we have to react to that.
“In a way, this match has forced our hand. In the next two Tests, we have to go out and fight for every single run and wicket and try to hold on to number one.”
Bell admits he took inspiration from former England team-mate Paul Collingwood as he attempted to lead a rescue mission on day five at the Kia Oval.
Collingwood was famed for his resistance in similar situations and it was he and Bell who did most to save the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town back in January 2010.
“I was trying to draw on my experiences and I’ve watched Colly do it brilliantly,” Bell explained.
“I did it with him at Cape Town, I was trying to draw on those experiences - over-by-over, runs almost irrelevant. I needed to face over 300 balls and didn’t quite manage that.”
England’s hopes grew as Bell and Matt Prior shared a stubborn partnership for the sixth wicket that was eventually brought to an end on 86 when the latter fell to Imran Tahir.
Dale Steyn then accounted for Bell, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann with the second new ball, before Tahir claimed the final scalp of James Anderson.
“Despite losing four wickets on the fourth evening, we still believed we could save it,” Bell explained.
“Myself and Matty were very positive at lunch. We've done it before and believed we could get to tea.
“The new ball would go soft again after that, but Dale Steyn led their attack brilliantly and showed why he is number one in the world. He put in a spell when it really mattered.”