Ian Bell is more than happy to fill England’s vacancy at number three when the Ashe resumes in Adelaide next week.
The Warwickshire batsman has spent significant chunks of his international career coming in at first wicket down, scoring a magnificent, career-best 235 when deputising for an injured Jonathan Trott at the Kia Oval against India in August 2011.
Bell subsequently returned to his role as a reliable mainstay of England’s middle order – most impressively with three centuries and the man-of-the-series award against their current hosts in the summer – and, with Trott absent once more, Bell could again bat at number three.
Alternatively, Joe Root could be pushed further up the order having opened in the summer and Bell, who captained England to a two-day draw against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in Alice Springs, believes the range of options at England’s disposal stands as a huge positive in their bid to square the series.
“Obviously, it’s difficult without Trotty – who has been such a key player for us for such a long time,” he said.
“We’ve got a number of options with the batting and balance of the side … but I put up my hand to go up the order,” he said.
“I’ve said I’m absolutely willing to go to number three. But that decision is probably out of my control.”
Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes are the other men in the touring party offering a variety of options, and the former’s first-innings half-century in Alice Springs impressed Bell.
“I think Gary Ballance has done really well here,” he said.
“He’s had a tough start, with the first couple of knocks he’s had in an England shirt. So to go out there and bat a long period of time, on a wicket that wasn’t the easiest to score runs on fluently … he did well.
“That’s what we want, guys who are going to bat long periods of time in this series – so he showed some character.”
Durham all-rounder Stokes brings the additional benefit of bolstering England’s pace attack and Bell pointed out that the 22-year-old’s abilities with reverse-swing could be beneficial on an Adelaide surface that may be slow and abrasive.
“Ben looked really good, very positive, and bowled well today with the reverse-swinging ball – so we’ve got some nice options,” he added.
Elsewhere on the bowling front, spin duo Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar impressed amid searing heat at Traeger Park, taking seven of the eight wickets England claimed today.
Swann was the pick with 4-56, while Panesar pushed his own Test claims by producing a beautiful delivery to bowl Steven Cazzulino between bat and pad for 48 on his way to 3-41.
“Monty set the tone straight after lunch with that wicket through the gate,” said Bell.
“That is exactly how Monty bowls at his best and it was nice to see him settle into that rhythm very quickly.
“It is a possibility (that he could play at Adelaide). We’ve got that flexibility, two spinners.
“When he’s bowling well, he bowls beautiful deliveries and shows that quality you need in a left-arm spinner.”
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