Bell looking to end Australia hopes
Ian Bell, once derided by Australia, is relishing his lead role in the destruction of the tourists' Ashes ambitions and he is determined to put the final nail in the coffin at Old Trafford next week.Bell struggled for form during England's 2005 Ashes triumph, scoring just 171 in 10 innings with his only meaningful contributions being two half-centuries in the draw at Old Trafford.The Warwickshire batsman, nicknamed 'The Shermanator' by Shane Warne after a geeky character from the American Pie films, averaged just 32 in 18 Tests against Australia before this series.But Bell has matured into England's middle-order lynchpin. He has scored a century in the last three Ashes Tests, including vital innings in the victories at Trent Bridge and Lord's."From my first couple of (Ashes) series I knew I had to improve on that," Bell said."The (Australian) team I started against was pretty good, so it is nice to be putting my hand up now as a senior player when we've needed it."I feel pretty confident right now and it is good to be putting it together in an Ashes series which is what I've wanted to do."I don't really feel too bad about the previous series but it is nice to be able to do things when the team need it most and scoring hundreds is what you want to do."To have three now against Australia is exactly where I want to be."Bell has always found Old Trafford to be a happy hunting ground. He has scored two hundreds and a 97 in five Manchester Tests, at an average of 87.England's record there is positive too, winning six of their nine Old Trafford Tests since the turn of the century.In short, it is a good place for England to be heading as they look not just to retain the Ashes, which they will do with a draw, but win the urn outright.But if there is anything Bell takes from that titanic drawn Test in 2005 - the last Ashes match played at Old Trafford - it is that Australia will be battling for their lives."I know that the Test matches I've been involved in there, we've got a good record so it is a good place for England to go to now," Bell said."The 2005 Test was a game we were looking at (targetting) another win, but Australia battled right to the end."They were so excited about getting the draw, so you felt a little shift in the series right there because they were happy to get out of it."It was an intense game as all Ashes games are and I would expect another tough game coming up."Coming into this series it has been about contributing to the team and at Lord's we had to work hard in different periods of the game and we got our rewards at the end."It has been hard work, but these couple of days will give us a nice break from the cricket so we're right for Old Trafford."Bell's bid for a Lord's hundred could have ended on just three when he fended a rising delivery from Ryan Harris to Steve Smith in the gully, only for the third umpire to rule the ball had not carried.David Gower, commentating on television, described it as an appalling decision and it reignited the debate about whether a batsman should walk.Bell revealed he was told to stand his ground by the umpires."At the time it didn't look quite right.
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