Australia v England, 3rd ODI, Sydney January 22, 2011

'We will stay aggressive' - Ian Bell

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World Cup preparations for England and Australia are hardly in ideal shape at the moment. The home side are struggling to keep eleven fit cricketers on the park, yet the visitors find themselves 2-0 down in the seven-match series when they could easily have won both games.

In Hobart, England couldn't chase down 231 having twice allowed Australia to recover in their innings. With the tour close to hitting the three-month mark and with the Ashes impressively retained there could be some weary bodies and minds thinking of the journey home as they prepare for the Sydney match on Sunday. But England have said throughout that they want to be the best team in the world in all formats, so have to show they can switch their focus and intensity between different versions.

Ian Bell has been involved in the tour from day one and is now back playing limited-overs cricket alongside his Test role, which means there will be no break for him until after the World Cup which starts next month.

"I think we have let ourselves down a little bit in the two games we've played," Bell said. "There's no point thinking of home because we've only got three days at home. It's a massively important couple of months for us so it's important we get that right.

"We did have a chat last night and hopefully we can put things right now and put in a good performance. I don't think we are far away, but we just haven't quite done the small detail very well. If we can get that right I am sure we'll get back in this series."

England have not been able to field their strongest side during the one-day series with James Anderson back home resting, Stuart Broad out with a stomach injury and Graeme Swann sidelined with a knee problem. Anderson will be available again for the fourth match in Adelaide, on January 26, and, although in the long run the optional or enforced absences may help England's bowlers perform during the World Cup, Bell doesn't think schedules should be an excuse.

"It has been a long trip but you expect that as a cricketer. In international cricket you are going to spend a lot of time away from home, it just comes with the job so you should be used to it. I don't think anyone should be feeling that fatigued really. We've got a big World Cup coming up so we have to get our game right. It starts tomorrow; we have to start playing some good cricket."

While the depth of England's attack has been an issue, the batsmen have been guilty of soft dismissals in the two one-dayers. Bell has twice been caught in the off-side ring - off Steve Smith at the MCG, then when he cut Brett Lee to point in Hobart - but following Andrew Strauss's lead he believes it's important for the batsmen to play with freedom.

"We've had a lot of success in the past 12-18 months in one-day cricket by playing aggressive cricket. We don't want to stop doing that. When you go with the aggressive side of the game you are always going to make the odd mistake."

One change to bolster England's all-round options would be a recall for Paul Collingwood, possibly in place of Jonathan Trott, but he's likely to be given more time on the sidelines to refresh himself. Trott is being tried out in the Collingwood role with the ball, but doesn't have the same variation and skill, which could mean a new balance to England's attack with just one spinner even though Sydney often offers turn.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JB77 on January 23, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    @ voma 'Ian bell is a quality player who could walk into any international team....But the big scores have to come.' I've been reading that about Bell for his whole career. When WILL he do more than just look good and get out cheaply? More specifically when will he do it when a teammate hasn't also got lots of runs in the same innings?

  • dummy4fb on January 23, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    this is how they show, they are best in the world .they thinking are too far ahead and the result is in front of you .

  • Something_Witty on January 23, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    ahh landl, you make a good point, but I wonder if you would be saying the same thing if England were 2-0 up eh?

  • landl47 on January 23, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    There seems to be a complete lack of perspective about this series. Sure, every side wants to win every game, but this is not a very important series in the larger scheme of things. Both sides are under strength, both are tired in the wake of the Ashes and both have one eye on the World Cup. In similar circumstances in 2007 England beat Australia in the ODIs and that proved to have no relevance whatever. Australia beat England 6-1 after the Ashes in 2009 and England promptly went to South Africa and won the ODI series there- you might want to remember that, valvolux. I don't think this series is any indication at all of how the two sides will perform in the World Cup, except that Australia seem to be piling up more serious injuries. So far the difference between the two sides has been that Australia have had two batsmen who have made hundreds and England's batsmen haven't converted their starts, mostly due to poor shots. That may change, but if it doesn't, who really cares?

  • Ozcricketwriter on January 23, 2011, 0:04 GMT

    The good news for Australia is that every injury represents a chance to actually put people in the team who should have been there in the first place. I'd just like an injury to Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting please, or at least for them to pretend to have one.

  • righthandbat on January 22, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    I think England's squad might be a little bare in the batting department - they should have brought at least one or two more batsman to cover for players. Also - Davies should never have been dropped.

    I also would have liked to see Bopara and Hildreth out here to be part of the ODIs. It would give England's batting stocks much greater depth. I mean, if they were in the side (along with Cook - vice-captain of tests) you could rest key players like Strauss, Bell and Pietersen for a game or two and get more rotation happening.

    The current team looks tired and completely out of shape. Also, two players that have been underused - Panesar and Finn - surely they should come into the team at some point - especially with Swann and Bresnan injured.

    Anyway, your call Andy.

  • 5wombats on January 22, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    @Shan156; completely agree.

  • Shan156 on January 22, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    If someone had offered England fans a 3-1 win in the Ashes but a defeat in the ODIs, most of us would have taken it. Yes, it hurts when you lose any game but the fact that we won the Ashes so convincingly offers so much solace that it doesn't hurt that much. Still, England should raise their game and beat this Aussie side that is missing Ponting, Hussey, Harris, Tait and Hauritz. I think Colly and Jimmy would come in to the XI in Adelaide and then we will see an improved performance. But, the batsmen have to get their acts together and not give away their starts so easily - Bell, indeed, is the biggest culprit.

  • pakwellwisher on January 22, 2011, 17:29 GMT

    They have been anything but agressive so far.

  • valvolux on January 22, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    i agree - this is the worst australian team in a long long time....lee has never been anything more than a run leaker who batters lowly opposition...and tait is much the same. they looked good when they played with mcgrath and co. i wish we were still brilliant, but we aint. but neither is england. the last ashes had the lowest amount of combined talent in 20 years. both these teams are no hopers. south africa on paper have the best team by a mile....india is doing well to keep pace, so i expect it will be a 2 horse race at the world cup...cause neither of these 2 sides can hold a candle to south africa. their last hope is the choker tag and the fact india is boxing well above their weight against them and were knocked off by a similarly weak australia team recently. god, cricket is boring these days. personally im going for the windies...since gayle is a west aussie these days!

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