Bell urges Ashes mentality
Ian Bell knows England must begin the international summer as they approached last winter’s Ashes tour if they are to prevail in npower Test series against Sri Lanka and India.
Andrew Strauss’ side went to Australia fully focussed on winning a Test rubber Down Under for the first time in 24 years and that mindset led to a 3-1 triumph.
With the World Cup following hot on the heels of that tour and a necessary period of rest for the likes of Bell, who played in every of England’s winter internationals, the home players have had a relatively short build-up to the Sri Lanka series.
However, each member of the 12-man squad has appeared for their counties this month and Bell is urging his team-mates to replicate the attitude they showed in Australia last November.
He told ecb.co.uk: “It feels a long time since the Ashes now and there’s a lot more goals for this team to achieve and this week’s a good place to start. We want to get ourselves up the rankings and get ourselves to number one in the world.
“We have to do well this summer; we have to play well against Sri Lanka and India to achieve those goals so it’s important that we come into this summer with the same frame of mind as we went to Australia. If we do that we’ll be in a good place.”
England are third in the Test rankings, one place ahead of Sri Lanka but behind India – in first – and South Africa.
Bell, who has faced Sri Lanka and India before among his 62 Tests, is aware of the task ahead.
“We know that they’re both world-class teams, some world-class players in both teams, so we’re going to have to play some really good cricket as well,” he continued.
“It’s important we play well at home and we should be favourites for both series. You know, we’ve still got to play really good cricket.
“We’ve still got to get first-innings runs on the board like we did in Australia and allow our world-class seam attack to take those 20 wickets. If we do that we’ll be in a really good place this summer.”
Bell revealed he enjoyed his post-World Cup break, although he used part of the time to seek improvement in his game even – without bat in hand.
“Since the World Cup finished we got five weeks off so that was a good chance to really reflect and look back on the winter and see if there’s areas that we can really improve on and the great things we did as well during the winter,” he said.
“So it was a good five weeks just to sit back and look back on a few things, but (I’m) excited now about what this summer has to hold as well.”
The Warwickshire batsman, who scored a century in last week’s LV= County Championship victory over holders Nottinghamshire, has found it straightforward to get back into the groove.
“I didn’t find it too bad,” he added. “I felt obviously (it’s) refreshing from the game – getting five weeks away without picking up a bat can do you sometimes a lot of good – and to come back and have the energy to train and get in the nets and work really hard and refocus, sometimes that time away from the game does you good.
“I feel really energetic now and hungry for runs and hungry for practice so I feel in a good place for cricket.”