December 31, 2013

Outplayed and outdone by Australia

England have been hammered in this series, but that doesn't mean the players and coaches are not good enough anymore

It is probably inevitable that after a tour like this there will be questions asked about our futures and the futures of our captain and coaches. After arriving in Australia full of hope and expectation, we have been badly beaten. There's no getting away from that.

All I can say is that in my ten years of playing for England, we have never had it so good. We have all the information, all the facilities, all the advice and all the encouragement. The coaches can't go out and score hundreds or take wickets. That is up to us as players. We have let our coaches and captain down.

People forget that it is only a year since Alastair Cook led us to victory in India. He showed magnificent leadership on that trip and retains the respect of the whole side. He is a lead-from-the-front captain and although he will be a bit disappointed by his lack of big scores on this trip, we all know what a fine player he is. I thought his batting in the second innings in Melbourne was very good, too.

It is the same with Andy Flower and the coaching staff. These are the same men who led us to No. 1 in the world, the same men who we all praised when we won three Ashes series in a row, when we won in India, even at the end of the England summer. It is not their fault we have played so far below the level of which we are capable. We remain as well a prepared team as any in the world.

Clearly I was as guilty as anyone for my second-innings dismissal in Melbourne. In the last five years I have prided myself on my ability to make runs under pressure and when the team need them most, so to let them down on this occasion was particularly disappointing.

I have to give credit to Nathan Lyon, the bowler. I was trying to drive the ball on the ground through extra cover, but there was more drift than I thought, I didn't quite get to the pitch and ended up spooning it to mid-off. It was the sort of freakish dismissal I have fallen to quite a few times on this odd tour. I still feel in good form. I still feel confident every time I go out to bat.

I passed 1000 Test runs for the year during the game. Michael Clarke was the only other man to achieve that during 2013 and it is a milestone of which I am quite proud. I hope people will remember that a couple of low scores do not suddenly mean you have forgotten how to play the game.

It is just the same with other members of the team. Cook became the youngest man to score 8000 Test runs during the Melbourne Test, James Anderson and Stuart Broad created chances that we failed to take in the field, and Kevin Pietersen is now the fourth-highest Test run scorer in England's history. Players like that deserve to have some credit in the bank.

Defeat in Melbourne hurt us deeply. It reminded me of the Test in Adelaide in 2006-07, when, having fought ourselves into a strong position, we let it slip. It just goes to show how important every session is in Test cricket, I suppose, but it wasn't good enough.

We have to hold our hands up individually and collectively. We were timid in our second innings when we should have taken the game to Australia. It's not good enough at Test level just to defend and allow pressure to build. You have to try and dictate a bit.

Australia seem to have reacted better than us during the back-to-back series. They have learned where to bowl to each of us and they have executed their plans brilliantly. They have been better than us in that regard.

Maybe we are at the start of a new journey. We have to draw a line under the team that won so much over the last five years and accept that this is a new team with several young players. It will take a while for the likes of Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow to gain the experience you need at this level, and learning in front of 90,000 people at the MCG is a big ask. In fact, it is as tough an environment as I have experienced. That makes it all the more important that senior players like me step up and help them.

There is no denying the fact that we have sustained a big blow on the chin on this trip. And there's no denying it has hurt. But anyone who is waiting for the tour to finish might as well go now. We are playing for our pride and we are playing for our futures. More importantly, we are playing for our country.

We have to show we still have the desire, the quality and the strength to play at this level. I have every faith in my team-mates and myself. We go to Sydney full of fight and determination.

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

  • Daison on January 5, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    Come on Bell, you don't have to dig out the Series in India, the ashes prior to this and all that sort of things. Because if you dig out a bit more then you will see those two in your list are the only good things you have to show for umpteenth number of years you know. When you were winning you were making fun of your opponents, weren't you? You should not dish out more than you can take. Don't come out and make excuses like "I made 1000 runs this year, so I should be excused for losing the ashes". "Cook played well in one second innings, so please spare him losing the ashes". One of your team mate decided it would be better to join his brother's new year party rather than being humiliated by Australia. Everything about England Team was pathetic this series and then you come up with stats like 1000 runs in a year, 8000 career runs and all that? Please….

  • Daison on January 5, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    Sorry Mr. Bell, your Captain will be removed from the postion. He should consider himself lucky if he is retained in the team as batsman. Your wicketkeeper Prior is not going to play for England anymore. The self proclaimed (or own team mates proclaimed) "best swing bowler in the world" Anderson will be dropped from the Team to try it out in county cricket again. Though KP should be retained in the team, the earlier grudges inside the Team Management may cause him getting dropped as well. Curberry, you, Broad, Stokes are the guys going to be there in the "re-building" team. After giving a "flash in the pan" for a couple of years, England Team has gone back to where it belonged in International cricket over the years. This defeat was no surprise, how you guys won those matches prior to this defeat was the the real surprise.

  • Peter on January 5, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    "We go to Sydney full of fight and determination"

    Ian Bell: please shed some light on how your above quote explains the result of the 5th test.

  • Steve on January 4, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    @Thegimp.........Hmmmmm you were right.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    Bell, please. When you win your failures do not get noticed. Even the small inconsistencies in the team wont show up. You had a good series in the Ashes tour in England. You might have received some good balls but come on man up and accept that you had no clue that the Australians would have been this good. You and your team were expecting a walk in the park and have your bottoms kicked. You are an international cricketer for crying out loud. You are payed to play for your country. you do not play for free. So please keep your excuses to yourself.

  • Steve on January 2, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    I don't think Bell stands a chance at 3. On pitches where he can't just rock onto the front foot and carress the good length ball through coverers, on pitches that aren't doctored to be low, slow dust bowles, on pitches where you can gently rock back onto the back foot and spank and waist high short ball in front of square for four, he won't last ten minutes. The scary thing is, he knows it.

    England's seed was sown last year when they so cleaverly (or so they thought at the time) doctored the pitches to suit Swann and blunt a superior fast bowling unit. At that point they efectively handed the ashes to Australia. A really great team backs themselves to win on any surface under any conditions. A really great team works themselves to the ground not work the ground to themselves.

  • Alan on January 2, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    Who cares what Bell thinks. He's a very well paid employee not a pundit or journalist. Again self serving comments pandering to the brain's trust and everything. Just get on with the job, show leadership in the field and with your bat. He is not above reproach, does the odd mea culpa etc. ECB needs to shut these people up and have only the Captain or Manager speak. Tiring as with Prior and others.

  • Jay on January 1, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    Dear Ian, you MUST bat at no.3 for England. The problem is you are hiding down the order when you have the capability to strengthen the batting and the technique to be a formidable no.3 for England in test cricket. I also don't agree with you on Flower's position. I think Andy needs to go. It's his way of management that has brought English cricket to this position. Way too much discipline, solitude, attention to detail, and robotic outlook towards cricket have ruined England as a team. I can clearly understand you and the rest of your team mates are exhausted, tired, and sick of it all. It's also obvious none of you in the England cricket team want to be in Australia any longer. It's time for change and sadly, some senior players have to be axed for the sake of the team's future.

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    @Ian Bell: dude, if you really want to start winning again, tell Andy Flower to swallow his gigantic pride and bring back Nick Compton, because old-man-Carberry and diaper-clad-Root will just not cut it. One is a mediocre player and the other is a hyped-up media sensation. Bring back Compton, if he is even half as good as his legendary grandfather, England will be back to winning ways.

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Ian Bell, I personally think your captain (Alistair Cook) is a very good and cool bloke. But, love me or hate me for saying this, but I got to agree with Mr. Shane Warne: "Your captain lacks a good, sound & active imagination, and is very conservative in his game-plans."

    Michael Clarke scores heavily over Alistair Cook in the sense that he tries different things in difficult match situations, asks questions of the opposition, and forces them into making errors. And, he's just as good as Cook, even from the individual performance point of view, which lifts his side even further.

    I think chaps like you have to assist Cook a lot more in his captaincy, and groom a person such as Joe Root to be a future England captain. I believe that Joe Root has good leadership potential, and can be very cool, composed, and witty, even in high pressure situations.

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