London: Former England captain Sir Ian Botham has praised the Ashes hosts` century-making hero Ian Bell as a `bonafide Ashes star`, saying that if Bell can guide England up towards a lead of 300 or more at The Oval, then the bowlers can bring the win home.
Bell scored his 4th century in the last five Tests against Australia to help England recover from a top-order wobble and manage a 202-run lead at Durham`s Chester-le-Street on Sunday.
Hailing England for a `well-played` match, Botham said that Bell is not finished yet and has got the power to add to his tons at The Oval, adding that the player has joined the exalted ranks of legends Maurice Leyland (1934) and David Gower (1985) to manage three hundreds in a Test series against Australia in England.
According to Botham, without Bell`s efforts in this series so far, the Ashes would not have been secured already, adding that Bell is making the most of his time to shine in the series.
Stating that there are a couple of `twists and turns` yet to come in the series at The Oval, Botham however, also praised Australian bowler Ryan Harris, saying that even though he has been magnificent for the tourists throughout the series, he was even better on Monday at Durham as he made Bell work `bloody hard` for his runs.
But Botham stated that Monday was England`s day after they took the five wickets they needed quickly in the morning and then built up the lead, adding that Australia will be struggling at The Oval after losing all-rounder Shane Watson to a probable serious injury.