England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 1st day July 18, 2013

Late wickets dampen Bell's day


Ian Bell conceded that England were "disappointed" to lose three late wickets to surrender a strong position towards the end of the first day of the second Investec Ashes Test at Lord's.

England were progressing smoothly at 271 for 4 when Bell, having made a high-class century, edged a leg-break in the first over from part-time spinner Steve Smith. Bell's dismissal precipitated a decline that saw England lost three wickets for 12 runs and sees them start the second day with no specialist batsmen remaining.

But Bell also suggested that England had recovered well from a poor start - they were 28 for 3 within the first 40 minutes - and that they probably would have settled for a total of 289 for 7 by stumps at that stage.

Bell, with the 19th Test century of his career, was the mainstay of the revival and, after centuries in the final Test of the previous series between the sides at Sydney and in the first Test of this series at Trent Bridge, became just the fourth England batsman to register centuries in three successive Ashes Tests. The others are Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond and Chris Broad.

"It was disappointing to lose those wickets but it wasn't a bad day," Bell said. "We would have taken that at three down early on.

"The important thing is to win the first hour in the morning. We could do with getting to 350 and we do have a bit of batting to come, but it is a bit disappointing to lose those wickets to the late strikes.

"It's very satisfying to play a big innings. It's what I have wanted to do over the last couple of years and you need as big a first-innings score as we can on a that wicket. I had to leave as well as possible early on and then try to cash in as the day went on.

"I've only just found out about the record. It's incredible; a real honour to be with those names. Lord's is a special place and to go back into the dressing room and see that the lads have put your name in tape on the honours board is really special. The innings came at a time that was important for me and the team."

While Bell was understandably dismayed to lose his wicket to a spinner who, before this game, had only four Test wickets and had all but given up bowling, he could see the silver lining in his dismissal.

With Smith getting a leg-break to turn sharply and take the edge of Bell's bat on the first afternoon, he felt that Graeme Swann may also find some assistance later in the game.

"It's a good sign there's a bit of spin from straight," Bell said. "That's nice. He took one wicket with a full toss and then bowled a couple of good deliveries but it's a good sign to have a bit of spin from straight. I'm a little bit surprised by the amount of turn. It usually skids on more at Lord's.

"It's a lot drier than a normal Lord's pitch and looks much different. It's difficult to know what a par score is but the longer we get this weather it will be very dry and hopefully there is more pace by the time we get to the fourth or fifth day."

If England fall below 400 in their first innings, they will have failed to reach that total for nine innings in succession, stretching back to Wellington. While Bell could provide no explanation for that run of form, he felt England's batsmen were "not far away" from a collective return to form.

"Sometimes it happens like that," Bell said. "The work ethic is always there with his group. It's been my turn to get runs, but in the past our top three have been outstanding at setting a platform. We're not far away and when it does happen we'll find ourselves in a good position."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ray on July 19, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    @ venkatesh018 on (July 19, 2013, 5:22 GMT): Given that England are so bad against spin, I guess that we should give up on the idea that they might one day win a series in the sub-continent .... oh, hold on .... what happened six months ago?

  • Pramod on July 19, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    Watto was in attack not due to clarke's out-of-the box thinking but due to pattinson's previous 2 overs bowled when he was consistently bowling down the leg side.. Zingoism is good but we have to look at the whole perspective which led to the change..

  • hari on July 19, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Just like Trent Bridge the first day ended on an even note at Lords. I think Aussies will be thinking thay gave about 50 extra easy runs and England will think they gave atleast 2 wickets away. If the wicket does take turn, the present score of England is good enough for a struggling Aussie line up. However, one good thing Aussies have done is not to bowl out England yesterday. They will take atleast 30 minutes to remove the last 3 batsmen which means they will have seen off the early morning dew without batting. When they come on to bat about 45 minutes into day 2, the weather and the pitch would be dry and except for the new ball doing some things, batting in general would be far more easy. If Watson and Rodgers give another good start, then we can see some good scores from the Aussies, especially Clarke. I feel Clarke should come behind Hughes and Khawaja. He is most successful at No. 5. With Smith, Haddin and the tail to follow, Clarke can build a winning first innings total.

  • Benjamin on July 19, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    @venkatesh018 - you were obviously watching a different game. It drifted, dipped, and spun and got a man out who to that point had made a faultless 109. I don't ever recall Cam White doing that. While he had the ability to land his leggies they generally had nothing on them like what smith was putting on the ball last night. The key with Smith is his length. The next time he bowls they might too full or too short and he'll be easily scored against. If however he drops them on the spot again, he'll create a lot of headaches for the ENG batsman.

  • kumar on July 19, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Bring back Mr Warne. Even at his current fitness and form, he can wreck havoc in this English batting line-up. I saw Smith's 1st two dismissals yesterday and to call the ball which got Bell an excellent leg-break is too much, even by England's spin bowling standards. Temperatures crossing 30c, ball 80 overs old, you expect that much turn from a wrist spinner. Those rigid hands of Bell were good for marvellous cover-drives but not for blocking a leg-spinner's turn with a slip in waiting. Talking about Bairstow's dismissal is a waste of time!

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    @venkatesh018 Don't kid yourself mate. That ball was a pearler. Smith bowled excellently, did you even watch his spell?

  • Ben on July 19, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    @Allanki: I wouldn't bet on Clarke bowling ever again. I think his back has gotten to the point that him bowling would risk aggravating it and denying us our best (some would say only) batsman. I think you'd agree that's too great a risk at the moment.

  • VENKATACHALAM on July 19, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    That England are rubbish against spin has been proved once again. The way they played against Steven Smith, Clarke must be wondering why he didn't pick his frontline spinner, Nathan Lyon for this Test match. To call the ball bowled by Smith that dismissed Bell as "fabulous" is ridiculous. Cameroon White can bowl that simple basic legbreak in his sleep.

  • Hamish on July 19, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    @sridhar, in the shield last summer Smith took 1-71, in 2011-12 he took 4 wickets @103.50. Not really somebody you want to rely on for bowling and with the amount of back problems Clarke has had in the last couple of months we really don't want to depend on him rolling his arm over.

  • Benjamin on July 19, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    @Sridhar Allanki - I'm not so sure about that. ENG are clearly a better side than AUS but I'd say Clarke has had to move the chess pieces around the board a lot more just to remain competitive.

    In fact I'd say on the few occasions when Australia has been on top Agar making 98, AUS second innings 0/84, or that 10th wicket that got AUS to within 14 runs, Cook proved to be unimaginative devoid of any clues on what to do. You could see it on his face and in his body language.

    His ace in the pack and go to move is throw it to James Anderson. I don't think that is out captaining Clarke, it's just simple logic as he's an outstanding bowler. If somehow the Australian negate Anderson and Co, that is when you'll see how good a captain he is and what moves he makes to get wickets. Mind you he did give Root a bowl which claimed Cowan so that is a point in Cooks favour.

    I'd say Clarke is far better tactician that Cook, however Cook is a better manager of his men off field.