Ian Bell admits England were 'blindsided' by Australia on ill-fated Ashes tour Down Under

Bell was named England's cricketer of the year on Monday and reflected on the 5-0 whitewash in Australia last winter

England were "blindsided" by Australia last winter, but have the chance to put their Ashes whitewash behind them for good as they build for a new future.

Ian Bell is the man with that rallying call, for an era in which he hopes he and other senior players can help the next generation of Ashes winners to establish themselves.

It will all start - for Bell, returning coach Peter Moores, retained captain Alastair Cook et al - at Lord's this week, in the first of two Investec Tests against Sri Lanka.

Bell does not seek to diminish England's embarrassing recent past as he looks to the future.

But at 32, two Tests from a 100th cap which will almost certainly come at Headingley next week, he has a resolve to help set the tone with a return to the form of last summer - enough to win him England's 2013-14 cricketer-of-the-year award, with which he was presented in the Lord's Long Room on Monday night.

Last winter, almost in its entirety, was regrettable for England - and Bell believes it was in part a simple case of collective complacency.

"I don't think we reacted well to the problems we had, and there has been plenty of fall-out since," he said.

"When you step back from it all and have a look, I think we got 'blindsided' by Australia.

"I think we got hit unaware of where they were as a team."

England set off last October in pursuit of a fourth successive Ashes victory, having beaten Australia 3-0 at home last summer.

They returned, as few will need reminding, hapless 5-0 losers.

"You can't turn up in Australia expecting to win just because you won the last three on the bounce," added Bell.

"After Australia left our shores, they were already on the way up, and we were staying exactly where we were - which was dangerous.

"That is the reality."

That was then - not so long ago, granted - but this is now.

After their major management reshuffle, and with a team set to feature up to three Test debutants at Lord's, Bell believes England are ready for the challenge.

"Now we've got to do a bit of reacting ourselves, and striving forward to get better.

"It really hurt everyone in the team to lose like that - but after watching the (Australia -) South Africa series [which followed the Ashes], you realise this was some of the toughest cricket you will ever play.

"It is horrible to come away from that with a 5-0 scoreline, but it will be a good experience in the long run for the younger players who were on that trip."

Bell is confident they will be capable of setting the record straight again next time.

"Back in 2006-07, myself, Cooky, Straussy [Andrew Strauss], Jimmy (Anderson) and KP [Kevin Pietersen] were all on that tour when we lost 5-0 - and we all came back in 2010-11 and won that series.

"There is no reason why on the next tour of Australia the (Joe) Roots, the (Gary) Ballances, the (Ben) Stokes can't go back and win.

"If they learn quickly and improve, there is no reason why that can't happen."

PA

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