Pakistan v England 2011-12

Bell prepared for batting demotion

George Dobell

January 4, 2012

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Jonathan Trott chats with Mushtaq Ahmed, Dubai, January 4, 2012
Jonathan Trott's return to the Test side means Ian Bell will move back down the order © Getty Images
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Such is England's current strength in depth that even a man with a double-century in his last Test innings cannot avoid the imminent prospect of demotion.

In the absence of Jonathan Trott with a shoulder injury, Ian Bell was promoted to the No. 3 position towards the end of the Test series against India last year and responded with two centuries in three innings. The last of them, a sublime contribution of 235 at The Oval, underlined his maturation into one of the finest - and most attractive - players in Test cricket.

Bell understands, however, that he is highly likely to drop back down the order to allow Trott to return to the No. 3 position which he has made in own over the last couple of years. With Trott, the current ICC Player of the Year averaging 54 (with 1,412 runs and four centuries from 30 Test innings) at No.3 and Bell averaging 40.97 (with 1,434 runs and two centuries from 36 Test innings) in the same position, it's an understandable decision from England. By contrast, Bell averages 65 when batting at No. 5.

Long-term Bell admits that he retains ambitions to bat at first wicket down. With an aspiration to be rated the No. 1 Test batsman, Bell feels he needs to prove himself higher up the order to silence the doubters who suggest - with ever decreasing justification - that many of his Test runs have come against tired attacks in low-pressure situations.

"My goal is to bat three," Bell said from the ICC's Global Academy in Dubai, where England are preparing for the Test series against Pakistan. "I think that's where you can test yourself, and certainly there is a part of me that wants to bat there. I've had success at five, I've had success at six and I'm very happy to bat there. I'll bat wherever the team want me to bat.

"My long-term goal is I want to bat in the top three. But for me now, it's just a matter of scoring runs in this series. I'm clear in what I need to do. At the end of the day, we're a batting unit and we have to score runs to give our bowlers a chance of winning a Test match.

"So whether it's three or five, I'll be prepared to bat there. But I'm pretty sure it will be number five."

Compared to Chris Tremlett, however, Bell might still consider himself fortunate. Since returning to the Test side just before Christmas 2011 during the third Test against at Perth, Tremlett has bowled superbly and claimed taken 36 wickets in seven Tests at an average of 24.

Due to a couple of untimely injuries Tremlett now finds himself behind Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan in the tussle for a fast bowling position in the Test side and fighting with Steven Finn for the position of first reserve.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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