The Ashes 2010-11 November 25, 2010

Bell promises England fightback

Ian Bell insists there is no need for England to panic after they were run over by Peter Siddle's career-best haul on the first day at the Gabba. The opening exchanges of Brisbane Tests have been a quadrennial pain for the tourists but Bell said their total of 260 was an improvement on their problems here in 2006-07.

"We're not a million miles away from a par score," Bell said after his bright 76. "We know we're under-par, but it was a slow wicket and a decent day to bowl - it swung all day which was a bit unusual. There are some disappointed guys but it's day one of an Ashes series."

The Gabba has been impenetrable for visiting teams over the past 22 years and on England's last visit they finished the first day with Australia 3 for 346. There was the first-over exit of Andrew Strauss but the side had recovered until Siddle burst through with a hat-trick after tea on the way to 6 for 54.

When asked if it was a time for panic Bell said: "Of course not. This is probably a better first day than we had last time we were here. We're going to come out scrapping tomorrow morning, the guys have had really good preparation and we've played some really good cricket. Obviously it hasn't all gone to plan."

The conditions were helpful for the bowlers throughout and England's seam specialists will enjoy coming back after seven wicket-less overs before stumps. "There's an opportunity for our taller bowlers to hit the pitch tomorrow and if it quickens up a bit we'll be in the game," Bell said.

Siddle caused England's swift slide from 4 for 197 when he terminated Bell and Alastair Cook's 72-run partnership. "To keep them under 300 is going to be a perfect day for us and then being none down is probably the best position we could have been in," Siddle said.

The third-ball departure of Strauss, who hit Ben Hilfenhaus to gully, gave the hosts an early buzz, and Siddle's removal of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood provided a further spark in the second session. "We knew if we could be a bit more consistent and patient after the lunch break that we could get a few wickets quickly," Siddle said. "We got a couple and it was a long break again before we got the wickets [with Siddle's hat-trick]."

Both teams will monitor the weather closely, with showers predicted for the remaining four days, and hope their bowlers take advantage of the conditions. "Tomorrow morning is going to be the crucial time, we have to work hard in the first hour, see the new ball off," Siddle said. "It's always tough up here early to start"

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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