The Ashes 2013-14 December 2, 2013

Trott has brought us closer as a group

It's been hard to see him struggle but his troubles have brought the squad together and the break in Alice Springs has allowed them to regroup for Adelaide

It has been an emotional few days. Not only did we make a hugely disappointing start to the Ashes series but we saw our friend and team-mate Jonathan Trott forced home with a stress-related illness.

I've known Trotty a long time. When we first met at Warwickshire more than a decade ago, we had our whole careers ahead of us. We were young, single and ambitious. Over the years, we've seen each other grow from single guys into married men with kids, we've seen each other develop from county players into England players, and we've won County Championships together, Lord's finals together and Ashes series together. We've enjoyed each other's successes and mourned each other's failures. We have, in many ways, grown up together.

So to see him struggle has been hard. He has been a key part of this England team for a long time and he is a player we have relied upon to provide match-defining innings in tough situations again and again. He has, so often, been the man who has set up our totals and seen off the bowlers at their freshest and the ball at its hardest. Of course we will miss a player like that.

But this isn't about cricket. There's much more to life than sport and all any of us hope for is to see Trotty back on the cricket pitch with a smile on his face again. It doesn't matter if it's for Warwickshire or England: all that matters is that he gets well and he rediscovers the joy of playing again. There's no time frame, no expectation and no pressure. He just needs to get away from it for a while and come back when he feels ready.

They were a difficult couple of days for us in Brisbane. We let ourselves down as a batting unit, but I truly believe it has brought us closer as a group. We have had the opportunity to spend a few days in Alice Springs away from the glare of the media and we have talked through what happened and what we can learn from it. We have been made to feel incredibly welcome in Alice and several of the younger guys have enjoyed some good time in the middle. We have regrouped, refocused and we feel ready for Adelaide. We have come back from bad starts before and we know we can do it again.

We didn't give our bowlers a chance in Brisbane. They performed so well on the first day, but such effort takes a lot out of you in this heat, and by failing in our first innings they were forced back into action too quickly. We asked too much of them.

Trotty's return home has invited the question whether I ever thought about turning my back on cricket in bad times, even if just for the briefest moment. I can honestly say I haven't. I've wanted to be a cricketer since I was a boy and that hasn't changed. There are times it has been hard and there have been times I couldn't buy a run, but I have never wanted to stop. I suspect that everyone who has played cricket knows what it is like to go through a patch of bad form. It is part of the cycle of the game. I have, I think, toured for at least part of every winter since I was 16 years old and there are times when that is hard. But you work out ways to cope and these days we are well supported.

The pitch in Brisbane was quite quick, though not as quick as some have suggested, and we were not as calm as we should have been. We can do much better

We have no complaints about anything that has happened on the field. We expect the Ashes to be played hard and we knew the Australians would come at us with everything they had. Quite right, too. There has been nothing happening on the field this series that has not happened in previous series.

Australia played well in Brisbane, but that was no surprise. There was no shortage of respect between the sides, and we have always known that Mitchell Johnson is a dangerous bowler. The pitch was quite quick, though not as quick as some have suggested, and we were not as calm as we should have been. We can do much better.

I have made it known that I'm willing to bat at No. 3 if required, but in the end the decision is not up to me and I will be quite happy to stay at No. 5 and do the job I've been doing for the last few years, if the management think that is best. The last time I did bat at No. 3 regularly was in the 2011 series against India, when my last innings was 235. I'm certainly a far better player than I was at the start of my career when I first had a go there.

Meanwhile, it was a nice confidence boost to be named in the shortlist of ten for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award. I don't think I have much chance of winning - Andy Murray is also on the list - but it is a reminder of the impact of success in an Ashes series. It continues to capture the imagination in a way that most series cannot. If ever we needed a reminder of how important our success is to people in England, we have had it. We will do our best not to let you down.

A fixture in England's middle order for almost a decade, Ian Bell has played in four Ashes-winning sides

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 7, 2013, 18:00 GMT

    Not sure how the England being order is decided but you have force your way to #3 Ian. Your runs at that position will instill confidence in the other batsmen and shift the momentum. This is the only card left for England to play. Hope to see you at three in the second innings like India did with vvs in 2001 leading to one of the greatest innings in test history. You are very capable of doing something similar.

  • whiplash9876 on December 4, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    I had the privilege to grow up with a really great cricketer through primary school and later on in high school. His way of fundamentally owning the game through that time inspired me to love the game more than I wanted to play it. This person is the brother of Claude Henderson. James fought for every run he made and in my books I always thought he would be SA captain. But once you ill treat great sport personalities, they tend to question if a club game and a different life might be more sporting.. I never want to feel the pressure these guys feel to succeed on our behalf.

  • jackiethepen on December 3, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Trott is now safely home but it was eye-opening to read in George Dobell's piece today about the traumatic scene in the England dressing room after he was out in the second innings. No wonder Broad used the word "heartbreaking". George also referred in his Switch Hit video how the trauma kicked off to shatter the calm of the dressing room. It gives a context to Bell saying how hard it was. Dobell described "Trott's torment" as being naturally unsettling and distracting to his team mates. We can only imagine how distressing it must have been. Meanwhile a game of cricket was going on with Cook and KP at the crease. The Australians knew nothing about this but it helps to explain the tensions in the last few overs.

  • Happy_hamster on December 3, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    LoungeChairCritic on (December 2, 2013, 9:24 GMT) Well rounded comments and makes a lot of sense.

  • Happy_hamster on December 3, 2013, 0:45 GMT

    gsingh7 on (December 2, 2013, 12:43 GMT) Interesting because you predicted a 4-0 win for the aforementioned 'Emergent Indian' side before they lost to England, you're tipping Australia is a real bonus for England as you have never made a correct prediction, ever.

  • CodandChips on December 2, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    Bell writes very well. Let's hope he can match it with his batting. Personally I like the guy but before the ashes, I think he should have been dropped. Good thing he wasn't, otherwise we probably would have lost the home series.

  • dummy4fb on December 2, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    That's actually a really good way to see it, that it has made the team bond more. I hope the team will do better, but Trott was a pivotal batsman in the order

  • android_user on December 2, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    I can liken what Trott and Bell have done for England to what Dravid and Laxman had done for India. They have helped England win tests from difficult situations and draw lost games consistently. However when Laxman s form started to dip we could see India losing more matches. I guess in a way if we keep the mental aspect of it aside Trott has been in bad form this year and it is having an effect on England specially overseas. The writing is on the wall it seems unless someone steps up soon

  • jackiethepen on December 2, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    Why do these guys publicly declare what they are 'feeling' collectively Anand? Because they are being interviewed and answering questions. This will have been put together with a journalist from Cricinfo - it has been Dobell on occasions - who guides the interview with questions. Also dressing rooms can go up and down as far as bonding is concerned. It is a pertinent question because a severe failure can sometimes cause discontent unless managed properly. Of course Bell is going to defend the dressing room but getting away from the hostility of the Australian media and lack of welcome usually accorded to visiting teams must have been a relief. Sledging is always expected on the field but the off the field hostility by the media and a call from Lehmann to shun the players by the Australian public is pretty nasty. Imagine if we had treated our guests like that. Bell is too polite to mention it except to say Alice was just the opposite and gave them a warm welcome.

  • LoungeChairCritic on December 2, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Both Trott and Bell are the corner stones of this good English team. No 3 is such an important position in a strong batting order. Trott will be missed. I suspect Bell will stay at 5 and Root will be pushed to 3. There is nothing wrong with protecting your best batsmen (Pieterson & Bell) from the new ball. As an ozzi fan I hate seeing Clarke (our best batsmen) having to bat before over 15. Australia's extended period of domination was built on a strong top 3 (Langer, Hayden & Ponting). Having a brittle top 3 and not having a consistent spin bowler is probably one of the main reasons why oz have been ordinary of late. I hope our top 3 bats as a unit in Adelaide and Nathan Lyon continues to improve. Lyon doesn't need to be a world beater, he just needs to do a job. When was the last time South Africa had a great spin bowler? South Africa have proven that you can win consistently on any surface with a spinner who just does his job.

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