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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cricket:Bell to bat at four for England

The incoming Ian Bell will bat in Kevin Pietersen's regular number four position in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, says skipper Andrew Strauss.
Bell replaces Pietersen in the side after the Hampshire man underwent a series-ending Achilles operation.
Strauss said: "We're fortunate to have Ian waiting in the wings. He's a proven performer in international cricket and it's a golden opportunity for him."
England are also "pretty confident" Andrew Flintoff will be fit to play.
Flintoff's constant knee problems have forced him to retire from Test cricket at the end of the Ashes series.
But Strauss reported that England's hero in the 115-run second Test victory has recovered well after his Lord's exploits, and is expected to test his knee in the nets on Tuesday.
I had to make sure I was in the best possible form if I got an opportunity
England batsman Ian Bell
"He's absolutely determined to play in these last three Test matches and it will take something pretty dramatic for him not to take the field on Thursday," Strauss said.
Bell was dropped after England lost heavily in Jamaica in February.
The 27-year-old's form began to dip during England's tour to India at the end of 2008 and the selectors eventually lost patience when his second-innings dismissal in Sabina Park sparked a collapse that resulted in the tourists being dismissed for 51.
But Strauss, speaking at The Oval where it was announced that Brit Insurance would take over from Vodafone as England's team sponsor in January 2010, was keen to put that in the past.
The England captain told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We have really high hopes that Ian Bell will be a big player in the team moving forward and he will be determined to take his chance."
We all get on Bell's case because he is so frustrating - all the talent in the world, but not matching expectations
Warwickshire star Bell, who plays much of his county cricket at the Birmingham ground where England next face Australia, said: "When you have played a considerable amount for your country, when you are not there it really hurts," said Bell.
"You miss what you used to do a hell of a lot. You do everything you can to get back into that team. When I got back from the West Indies after the winter tour, I really had to put the Ashes to the back of my mind.
"I had to get the runs in county cricket to give myself a chance to be part of the Ashes and overall I've done that."
This season Bell has scored 640 in 11 innings for Warwickshire in Division One of the County Championship, although he was dismissed for 7 and 0 in his last match, against Hampshire.
He averages 25.10 in 10 Tests against Australia against a wider average of 40.59. He has 3,004 runs in 46 Tests in all for England.
Strauss defended Bell's record against the Aussies: "It was very tough to go out and perform well in the days of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. He has come back a tougher cricketer."
There's a good feeling in the squad, but you can't let that become complacency
Andrew Strauss
The decision to bring Bell back at four means England will probably keep Ravi Bopara at number three, with Paul Collingwood at five and Matt Prior at six.
Strauss is expecting an Australian backlash at Edgbaston and has warned England must guard against complacency despite rising confidence levels.
"We fully expect an Aussie backlash and this Test match will be harder than the two we've played so far," he added.
"We're excited to be ahead but know that can change very quickly.
"You gain a huge amount of confidence from winning an Ashes Test and there's a good feeling in the squad, but you can't let that become complacency.
"We know what's at the end of the rainbow - if we play three good Tests we could win an Ashes series which as a captain is hugely exciting."

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