Ian Bell is quietly preparing himself for another drop down England's batting order this winter, but he admits that his long-term ambition remains to make the No 3 position his own. That will never be an easy task, of course, while the current International Cricket Council player of the year Jonathan Trott is in the frame.
Bell could hardly have put forward better credentials to stay in the coveted role, by hitting 159 and then a career-best 235 in only three attempts while Trott was nursing a shoulder injury during last summer's 4-0 Test series victory over India. That was, though, the audition of an understudy, and despite a prolific run of form since the start of last winter's Ashes, Bell is prepared to fulfil whichever task suits England's Test match world-beaters best.
That almost certainly means he will be back at No 5, where his fine technique against spin will come in handy against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, as England embark on their first series since becoming the ICC's No 1 Test team.
For Bell, one of the challenges will therefore be to silence the ego – a trick which has been central to England's ethos during their ascent to the top of those world rankings. Even so, the 29-year-old does not deny he still has long-term designs on one of cricket's most pivotal positions. "My goal is to bat three," he said.
"That's where you can test yourself, and certainly there is a part of me that wants to bat there. I've had success at five, I've had success at six , and I'm very happy to bat there; I'll bat wherever the team want me. My long-term goal is I want to bat in the top three. But for me now, it's just a matter of scoring runs in this series," he added.
There is little sense in Bell thinking in any other terms , because Trott has so often been an immovable force against the world's best attacks at one-wicket down.
"That's 100 per cent probably what will happen," Bell said of his anticipated demotion. "I'm clear in what I need to do. At the end of the day, we're a batting unit and we have to score runs to give our bowlers a chance of winning a Test match."