Ashes 2013: Ian Bell the classical stylist shows how it should be done - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Ashes 2013: Ian Bell the classical stylist shows how it should be done

England 238 & 233-5 Australia 270: These Ashes will be remembered for the Decision Review System, and Ian Bell

Cricket Correspondent

England may already have won the Ashes, they may well win the series. But there is a fag paper between these sides and it might be closer than that were it not for Ian Bell discovering the form of his life, fulfilling his destiny at last and changing the course of events.

Throughout an engrossing third day at the fourth Test it went this way and that. There is scope, though not much thanks to Bell’s third delectable hundred, for it to change direction again. By the close England had edged ahead of Australia, 202 runs in front with five wickets in hand.

Once more, the home side were indebted to Bell, the great stylist who has imposed his class and temperament on the Ashes this summer with five scores above 50. The first of those qualities has never been in doubt, the second has been a topic of constant debate throughout his international career. Until now.

Bell scored his third hundred of the series, remarkable considering the overall recent paucity of the side’s batting. The key partnership was of 106 with Kevin Pietersen, the two senior professionals together leading England out of peril.

It was never exactly comfortable on a pitch likely to be increasingly duplicitous but Bell was usually consummate, again using the late cut and the cover drive to enormous profit and playing in his most measured fashion. He was 105no at the end from 189 balls with 10 fours.

If Pietersen were ever in the mood, it would be tempting to ask him what it feels like batting at the other end to such a classical artist.

There was a marvellous passage towards the close when Ryan Harris, who had brought England low earlier in the piece, came charging in at Bell, titans in opposition. He over-pitched one slightly and Bell seized on it, cover driving impeccably for four, his head still, his elbows high, a picture of balance. Two balls later Harris bowled a bouncer which reared up at Bell and knocked him on to his backside as he fended it down.

Bell’s liaison with Pietersen was essential, coming as it did after England were reduced to 49 for 3, which is not tatters precisely but is not a template for creating success either. On five occasions out of eight in these Ashes, England have lost three wickets for 64 runs or fewer and on another were 11 for 2. The first wicket has never yielded more than 47. If the management thinks there is not a problem they are in denial.

The main cause of the troubles was the excellent fast bowling of Harris, who has an air perpetual menace about him. His broad muscularity defies the fragility of a body which has restricted him to 15 Test matches at the age of 33 but when the string and sealing-wax which holds it together stay intact there are few more incisive speed merchants around.

This means that Joe Root could be forgiven for being bowled by him for his fourth single-figure score in four matches as opener. True, a strong case could be made for Root not playing forward far enough – a habit that Australia are exploiting fully – but it was a humdinger of a ball, pitching, holding its line and clipping off stump.

Alastair Cook was more culpable, driving at a wide one, going wider and being caught behind. It was most unlike Cook, which was the more peculiar since Jonathan Trott was also conveying the impression once more of desiring to be someone else.

Trott is the original grind-them-down chap but, admittedly in a slow scoring contest, he has been the quickest of England’s batsmen against Australia. It is almost a crime against nature.  
Here he was again, rattling along against normal instincts. This is all very well but it has not led to the runs of yore. Sometimes he has been unlucky but Australia have also found weaknesses in his armoury. Harris snared him by bowling a fast bouncer on leg stump which Trott attempted to glance and managed only to glove to Brad Haddin for the wicketkeeper’s 23rd catch of the series.

 



Australia were right back in the match then, having constructed the sort of start they wanted after losing the first hour of the day. The tourists were in a strong position when play started, 16 runs behind on first innings with five wickets in hand.

Graeme Swann struck for England in the second over when he had the dangerous Haddin lbw, a decision which stood after review. Before the second new ball was taken, Swann and England had the bonus of ending Chris Rogers’s maiden Test century.

It was not straightforward, but then that has applied to many dismissals lately. Rogers was given not out after Matt Prior held a brilliant catch leaping forward after the ball seemed to come off bat and pad. England asked for a review and were rewarded when it was shown the ball had glanced Rogers’s glove. It is a game of small margins but it was another incorrect verdict by the umpire, Tony Hill, who must have wanted the ground to open up.
Matters were wrapped up when the new ball was taken, though not before Harris enjoyed himself by striking five cracking boundaries.

England reviewed the not out lbw verdict against him delivered by Hill. When the first replay showed where it had hit the batsman’s pads, Harris walked off, followed by England, leaving poor Hill standing alone in the middle, waiting for the official confirmation that he had to alter his decision.

These Ashes will be remembered for the Decision Review System, which may have to be changed as a result. But at least DRS has serious competition. They will be remembered too for the 10th England batsmen to score three hundreds in a series against Australia, Ian Bell.

Timeline: How The third day unfolded at Durham

11.04am BST: Wicket; Haddin lbw Swann 13; Australia 224-6

After failing with an appeal against Chris Rogers, England make the breakthrough: Graeme Swann traps Brad Haddin and it's game on.

11.20am: Wicket; Rogers c Prior b Swann 110; Australia 233-7

Sterling effort by Matt Prior. The wicketkeeper dives to catch Rogers' tickle and sends the centurion packing.

11.46am: Wicket; Siddle c Cook b Anderson 5; Australia 245-8

England are enjoying a fine morning. James Anderson, gets his first of this Test as the tourists lead by seven.

12.16pm: Wickets; Australia 270 all out

That didn't take long. Nathan Lyon is lbw to Anderson before Broad grabs his fifth wicket, Ryan Harris falling the same way. England trail by 32 as they seek to wrap up the series.

12.50pm: Wicket; Root b Harris 2; England 17-1

The wickets keep falling, Harris's superb ball accounting for Joe Root. England trail Australia by 15.

2.06pm: Wickets; England 49-3

England's captain, Alastair Cook, again fails to stick around, giving Haddin an easy catch, before he also snaps up Jonathan Trott.

4.53pm: Wicket; Pietersen c Rogers b Lyon 44; England 155-4

Some fine resistance comes to an end as Lyon breaks up the century partnership. KP walks and England are 123 ahead with six wickets left.

6.24pm: Wicket; Bairstow c Haddin b Lyon 28; England 221-5

Another useful partnership is broken, just as England look to be taking control. Haddin again with the catch.

6.37pm: Bell century; England 228-5

Where would they be without him? Ian Bell survives a near miss to make his third ton of the series. England end the day on 234 for 5.

James Mariner

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week