Ian Bell: Class is permanent and top six will soon cash in
Batsmen are up for the scrap and have to come good
Sunday 16 March 2008
It's been a tricky series. Bat seems to have been slightly dominatedby ball. There have not been big runs on either side and it's been a scrap. As yet there simplyhas not been free-flowing, run-scoring Test cricket; instead it's been bitty.
Credit should go to New Zealand, who have bowled consistently to a plan. They are trying to beat both sides of the bat, nipping the ball back and also shaping it away.
It looked a very good wicket here. While I don't think anyone expected it to seam around as much as it did, there had been 12 wins in the previous 17 matchesby the side batting second, so I guess it had to be taken into account. To get over 300 runs, with Timmy Ambrose scoring his first hundred – the first first-innings hundred for a while by England – was in its way a good effort. We were lucky, I guess, that Timmy stuck in there and dug us out of a bit of a hole.
I don't think anyone is out of form. I think it is just a matter of time until everyone starts to go through it again. At the moment we're fighting, which is a good sign for the team. We're all getting our heads down and scrapping. It's been really tough cricket and nothing has really gone our way in a way this winter. We've had to reallyfight for anything – and we're certainly prepared to do that.
Hopefully we can get through this period of real fighting, all of a sudden things will turn round a bit and we can cash in then. This top six has been together for a while. I have got faith in everyone around me, so it's a matter of getting out there and cashing in when it's your turn in a big way.
Kevin Pietersen looked in nick in the second innings until he was unluckily run out when Chris Martin deflected my straight drive on to the stumps at the bowler's end. It is always an unfortunate dismissal, nobody's fault. It happened to me when KP did it in the World Cup last year against Sri Lanka, so that was quid pro quo and 1-1.
The big news, I guess, was about the bowling line-up for this Test. Media speculation suggested that there would be one change, but it was very surprising when there weretwo. You can't let it distractyou, though, and both Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard have been very positive around the dressing room.
They have been in the team for as long as I have played, and you would want them both in the team on form. They are good blokes who want the best for English cricket. I haven't had a chance to have a sit down with Steve, but I will catch up with him at the end of the match.
We played badly in Hamilton, we know that, and we also know everyone is saying England should beat New Zealand. But to beat anybody in their own country you have to play really good cricket.
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