Ian Bell still wary of Australia threat

Ian Bell insisted England would be anything but complacent despite leaving Australia with a mountain to climb to win the first Ashes Test in Cardiff on Friday.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 11, 2015, 01:11 AM IST
Ian Bell still wary of Australia threat

Cardiff: Ian Bell insisted England would be anything but complacent despite leaving Australia with a mountain to climb to win the first Ashes Test in Cardiff on Friday.

Australia, who hold the Ashes after whitewashing England 5-0 on home soil in 2013/14, will need a mammoth 412 runs to win in the remaining two days at Sophia Gardens.

The highest fourth innings total to win any Ashes Test was Australia`s 404 for three at Headingley back in 1948 when Arthur Morris scored 182 and Donald Bradman, widely regarded as cricket`s greatest batsman, made 173 not out.

However, experienced batsman Bell, who returned to form with a fluent 60 in England`s second innings 289 on Friday, said: "In Ashes cricket, anything`s possible.

"I`m sure they`ll back themselves to come and get close, if not knock it off, so we know we`ve got a lot of hard work to do.

"If we bowl like we did in the first 10 overs today (Friday), we`ll put ourselves in a great position," added Bell, having seen England`s pacemen capture Australia`s last five first-innings wickets for 44 runs in a total of 308 all out made in reply to the hosts` initial 430.

Bell came in on Friday with England wobbling at 22 for two, having managed just 56 runs in total in his nine previous Test innings.

But the 33-year-old batsman, appearing in his 111th Test, responded with a stylish 89-ball innings including 11 fours.

Together with first-innings century-maker Joe Root, who also made 60, Bell put on 97 for the fourth wicket on Friday.

Bell, who had gone off the boil in dramatic fashion following his 143 against the West Indies in Antigua in April admitted he had feared for his England future.

"There`s no doubt I`ve been concerned," Bell said. "It`s been a testing period for me.

"The last four or five Test matches ... you have to dig deep sometimes, look right inside, and I had to work really hard.

"This is an incredible game -- it`s always testing you.

"From that hundred in Antigua, then all of a sudden it`s been tricky."

He added: "I knew this knock was going to be very important individually ... but that`s irrelevant. It`s about getting a total to win a game of cricket."

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who took four for 75 on Friday, insisted his side had not given up hope of victory.

"Records are made to be broken," Lyon said.

"We`ve got a world-class batting line-up and we bat right down to 11 so there is no reason why we can`t get these runs if we apply ourselves properly within our top order."

Many pundits had made Australia favourites for this match even though it is 14 years since they last won an Ashes series in Britain.

Lyon, however, said England`s form in their first match under new Australian coach Trevor Bayliss had not shocked the tourists.

"They are exceptional cricketers," said Lyon. "They have probably played with a lot more freedom and that`s providing good cricket.

"We are not surprised by England."