Birmingham: Ian Bell, under enormous pressure after a poor run of form and promoted to number three in the order, answered his critics in emphatic fashion with a composed unbeaten 65 to steer England to victory in the third Ashes test on Friday.
Calls for the 33-year-old to be dropped mounted after he failed twice in the second test at Lord`s and although he scored a fluent 53 in the first innings at Edgbaston, Bell was pilloried for the reckless stroke that brought his downfall.
The right-hander arrived at the crease on his home ground with England, chasing 121 for victory, on 11 for one following the dismissal of captain Alastair Cook.
Bell immediately went on the attack, clipping his first ball sweetly to the square leg boundary and taking responsibility in a partnership with inexperienced opener Adam Lyth.
He was badly dropped on 20 by Australia captain Michael Clarke but, after Lyth had departed for 12, Bell and Joe Root calmly guided their side home by eight wickets.
Cook never had any doubts about his team mate who has scored 7,545 runs in 113 tests, including 22 centuries.
"Class is permanent, Ian Bell is a fantastic cricketer, but we`ve got to keep backing the right horses and trust me, Ian Bell is one of them," Cook told reporters.
"It couldn`t be more fitting for Belly to be walking off in his home test match 60 odd not out to win a game.
"We know he`s a fine player, he had a bit of a tough time but everyone in history has a bit of a tough time. He`s absolute class and it was a pleasure to watch him," Cook added.