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
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn