'I feel I'm ready to play under pressure,' says Bell

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The Independent Online

Ian Bell insisted that England's first-innings score of 260 – widely perceived as a disappointing start – was "not a millions miles away from par" despite the tourists winning the toss and getting first use of The Gabba pitch.

Bell top-scored with a fluent 76, including eight boundaries, as he continued the form he has shown thus far on tour. His innings ended as he was caught in the deep off Xavier Doherty, making him England's penultimate wicket to fall. It left the Warwickshire man pleased with how he batted in making his second highest score in Australia. "I'm full of confidence and want to keep putting in contributions that help the team," Bell said. "I feel in good form. It was nice to go out and play fluently. I want to get stuck into this series and play some knocks under real pressure."

Overall Bell did not admit to being particularly disappointed with England's score, given conditions, and forecasts possible joy for English bowlers in the future. "We're under par but not a million miles away from a par score," he said.

"It was slow cricket, and a decent day to bowl to be honest with you. It swung all day and we've got an opportunity for our tall bowlers tomorrow to hit the pitch hard and if it quickens up a little bit we'll be in the game."

There were positives for England, despite their modest total. One of these was a calm 67 from Alastair Cook, who has struggled on his previous outings against Australia. "It was good to see Cookie get some runs and there were periods where we played well," Bell said.

Peter Siddle, who took only the ninth hat-trick in Ashes history, treasures the memory of trapping Stuart Broad leg before wicket, having removed Cook and Matt Prior with his previous deliveries. Cook was caught at slip by Shane Watson before Prior had his middle stump pegged back. "I'd like to say it was the plan [to hit Broad on the boot]," Siddle said, "but I was looking to hit the top of off. To get him on the full with a bit of shape was a dream ball. I'll definitely remember it for a long time."

Siddle added: "To see the finger [of umpire Aleem Dar] go up quickly was very pleasing. Then all the boys came charging in and Stuart was still in, so I sort of thought he'd call for [the review]. When you hit them on the full you're pretty confident."

The hat-trick came on Siddle's 26th birthday. He acknowledged that his achievement was one of the more memorable birthday gifts he has received. "It's an amazing feeling."

Bell was a powerless non-striker throughout. "I tried to pass on some info - but it probably wasn't too good by the looks of it," he said ruefully. "But the atmosphere was unbelievable, the noise and everything. Today was something really special to play in. Siddle bowled a great spell – two great deliveries first up to two new batsmen. But we're still in good spirits."

My confusing Ashes memories, Brian Viner, The Viewspaper