Ian Bell: Diary of a tourist

This final bonus is just what we wanted - more games
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Reg, the head security man, has a place down the road a bit from Brisbane. The team are invited there for a barbecue. It's a jolly occasion, and of course there's a spring in our steps. Beating Australia as we did three days ago tends to put the zing back.

We all keep half an eye on the match between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne. New Zealand make a pretty good 290 but the Aussies all but cruise home with another hundred from Ricky Ponting. It is noticeable that, unlike at other grounds, the ball does not move around appreciably in the second innings. That therefore significantly reduces the importance of the toss.


There's been a lot of growing up quickly. These days there is much talk about momentum in sport. But England have it now. Ed Joyce, the relaxed, genial Irishman, has it after that hundred against Oz. And Liam Plunkett, still only 21 don't forget, has bowled quite wonderfully at times. We feel right.


The criticism aimed at England on this tour has been prolonged and often justified. It has been tough, but I can tell you we have stuck together throughout it all.

I feel that shone through today in our win over New Zealand which took us to the Commonwealth Bank Finals. Sure, we're professional sportsmen, it's our job to play as well as we can every time, but the mind being what it is, it would have been possible at times this past week to go through the motions and get on the plane home after a psycho-logically damaging trip.

Michael Vaughan makes a real difference. He makes instant decisions calmly. When people make mistakes in the field he does not lose his cool or shout. Quite the opposite; he might say something funny to defuse the potential tension.


Apart from anything else, victory means we get at least two more games. This is precisely what this team need and want. The more we play the better prepared we will be for the World Cup.


Optional practice. Sessions tend to be different in the maelstrom of a one-day tournament, where the three-day routine is travel, train, play. I have a chat with coach Duncan Fletcher about my approach to batting at three, about the intensity of the role and the need to be assertive from the start. But that doesn't mean playing big shots every other ball.


If I might say so, a great day for this team. Today we beat Australia for the second time in a row, in the first CB final. They were 170 for one and 252 all out without using up all their overs. They lost their last six wickets for 23 in 37 balls. At the fall of Ponting, brought about by a stunning Paul Collingwood catch low to his left at cover, Andrew Flintoff brought us together.

In polite terms he told us we should pull our socks up. Look what happened. But, in reply, we are 15 for 3. Up against it. At 33 I am dropped by Glenn McGrath at long leg from a short ball I had meant to plonk over midwicket. It's a long time in the air and my heart is in my mouth.

But the utterly crucial thing in this position is not to panic. Keep going with the singles and twos, for sure - and there are plenty to be had at Melbourne. Hit the bad ball but do not gamble. Collingwood and I put together a stand built on hard running. It's hot but we wear the Aussies down.

Then Brett Lee comes back. He gets me with a fast, reverse-swinging yorker. It's not the sort of ball you want. Ever. We need another stand of 50. We get one of 74 between Collingwood and Flintoff. Paul Nixon joins Colly for the last act. I know it is difficult to compare, but he has learned a lot from Twenty20 cricket, where you have to think quickly with bedlam all around. We win with three balls to spare.


We have come a long away, further than many thought possible. Australia will be tough to beat. The important thing, as emphasised at our team meeting, is we leave everything we have out there on the Sydney pitch.