The Ashes 2015: Ian Bell will relish his chance to bat at number three, says Alastair Cook
England captain Alastair Cook has backed Ian Bell to return to form following the veteran batsman`s promotion to number three for the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Edgbaston: England captain Alastair Cook has backed Ian Bell to return to form following the veteran batsman`s promotion to number three for the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Bell, England`s most experienced batsman, having made his Test debut 11 years ago, has struggled for runs during the Ashes thus far with scores of one, 60, one and 11 in the first two matches.
There had been speculation that, with England repeatedly suffering top-order collapses, Bell might be dropped for the third Test at his Warwickshire home ground starting Wednesday after Australia levelled the five-match series at 1-1 with a crushing 405-run win at Lord`s.
But despite two failures in the second Test, Bell has been promoted to number three after England dropped Gary Ballance and brought in Jonny Bairstow to bat at five.
"He`s delighted to be back at three," Cook said of Bell on Tuesday.
"It`s a great opportunity to get in and make his mark on the game. He`s a proven international player and I think he`ll relish the chance to bat at three.
"Also being at his home ground is a really great opportunity."
There had been speculation that the in-form Joe Root might be promoted to number three and opening batsman Cook said: "The selectors would have thrown that around in the meetings.
"But they decided (to go with) the experience Ian`s got in terms of 100-odd Test matches.
"Belly at three and Rooty at four looks pretty good."
Cook added: "We`ve found ourselves over the last six months or so three wickets down early on too many occasions. So there has been a bit of a rejig.
"Congratulations to Jonny - he`s knocked the door down, with his weight of runs for Yorkshire, averaging over 100 for the side that`s top of the league. That`s fantastic cricket at any level, let alone the First Division with Yorkshire."Bell`s recent performances have revived a longstanding criticism that, for all the technical ability that has yielded over 7,000 Test runs at an average of more than 43 with 22 hundreds, he is rarely a man for a crisis.
"I still believe that when I`m playing at my best I`m a world-class player," Bell, whose 562 runs at an average of 62 played a key role in England`s 2013 home Ashes series win, told Sky Sports.
"I know that I haven`t done that to my capability over the last six or seven Test matches, and hopefully this is the start of me kicking on and going forward again."
England have a fitness doubt regarding fast bowler Mark Wood, who has a history of ankle trouble, with Steven Finn standing by if the Durham paceman is ruled out.
"We`re a little bit concerned with Woody and we`ll have to make that call tomorrow," said Cook.
Despite the scale of England`s defeat at Lord`s, Cook backed his side to bounce back at Edgbaston with the team having followed every previous Test defeat they`ve suffered this year with a win.
"It`s 1-1, a three-match series now and we need to win two games to do something very special," said Cook.
"That`s what is keeping everyone going. Lord`s was an absolute disaster in one sense, after Cardiff (where England won the first Test by 169 runs) to play as badly as that.
"That`s gone now. As professional sportsmen you have to keep looking forward to the next thing rather than keep dwelling on the past."