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

'We will stay aggressive' - Ian Bell

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