Ashes 2013-14: Ian Bell tells England they have 'no excuses' after embarrassing batting collapse in Second Test
Australia hold a mammoth 530-run lead over England with two days still to play
Saturday 07 December 2013
Straight-talking Ian Bell insists there can be “no excuses” for England after they were blown away yet again by Mitchell Johnson in the second Test at Adelaide.
Johnson was twice on a hat-trick, and finished with figures of seven for 40 as England collapsed from 111 for three to 135 for nine, and eventually 172 all out.
Bell alone withstood Johnson's 90mph spells, with an unbeaten 72 to add to Michael Carberry's maiden half-century, but England were still bowled out under 200 for the third successive time in this Ashes series.
Johnson was the match-winner in Brisbane too - and after David Warner (83no) augmented Australia's mammoth first-innings lead of 398 by 132 for three, the left-armer must be an odds-on chance to lead the hosts into a 2-0 lead.
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Bell has yet to succumb to him on this tour, but warns it is no use one or two frontline batsmen passing 50 if there is no support.
"You can't afford in Test matches, certainly in your first innings, to get bowled out under 200 - you're not going to win anything," he said.
"The guys in that dressing room have played a lot of cricket, and there's no excuses.
"It's just not good enough.
"We haven't played very well - there's no hiding or running away from that.
"We've got to improve fast in all areas, not just facing Mitchell Johnson but in everything we're doing at the minute."
It may be hard to envisage England somehow batting for almost two days - depending when Australia's declaration comes - to salvage a stalemate.
But Bell, for one, is not about to give up yet.
"There'll be some guys hurting at the minute," he said.
"We'll have an opportunity in the second innings to at least try to show people we're going to show some fight.
"This morning was an exciting opportunity - one (wicket) down - and it was all there to bat all day and get back into this game.
"It's just not quite happened. We need to fix it pretty quickly if we want to get back in the series.
"These games are saveable. But someone's got to play an incredible innings - if you want to bat a day, this is the day to do it.
"But what we've done in the last three innings isn't going to get us close."
Johnson once more made mincemeat of the tourists with his searing left-arm pace
How then can England actually solve a problem like Mitchell Johnson?
Bell concedes it will be far from easy, with the mercurial seamer in the form of his life, but he believes England must apply themselves better.
"When Mitchell Johnson's bowling at his best, if you get a couple of good ones in your first 10 balls ... it's good enough for anyone in the world," he said.
"So early in your innings, anyone can get knocked over.
"But obviously we're going to have to find an answer, because he's blowing us away (in the) middle and lower order.
"We need to make sure we can somehow get through his spells ... we need to find a way."
Bell cites mettle and method as primary resources.
"When you're playing pace, you have to have some serious courage.
"We need to make sure that's the first thing - we're getting out there and we're going to battle hard.
"You know there's going to be a few past your nose, that's a fact."
Johnson became a figure of fun on England's last tour Down Under, but Bell never doubted his talent.
"I don't think we should have been surprised by this," he said.
"It came on the board that he's gone into the top 10 Aussie wicket-takers of all time, so he's a quality performer.
"He's bowled a lot more accurately (in) this series than he has in the past. But I'm not surprised he's bowled well - I've always respected him as a good bowler, and when he's bowling at 150ks per hour you've got to be switched on every ball.
"At that pace, when he's got it right and it's 'reversing', it's tough work - certainly for the tailenders.
"But the top six or seven have to score the runs - we can't leave it to eight, nine, 10, 11."
Geoffrey Boycott labelled Kevin Pietersen '"rresponsible" after his dismissal
Johnson has vowed to keep his "magical" retro moustache for the remainder of the series - whatever his wife says.
He is hoping it will maintain his new-found consistency.
"There's been talk in the past I can have those performances where I can blow a team away, and then the next one not turn up," he said.
"To be able to back up a performance like I had in Brisbane ... that's why it was a bit more emotional today for me, and special."
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