Ian Bell: Diary of an Ashes tourist

An absolute hammering, the worst of defeats. It is completely gutting


It pours down in Melbourne. And it's cold. We practise in the indoor school at the MCG. The session has a lot of fielding. We talk beforehand of Perth and the Ashes and of how there is a lot still to play for in the last two Tests.


After a light training session the team lunch is an extremely pleasant affair. It is packed but not every player attends. There are good reasons for this: family and friends in the case of Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood, and in the case of Sajid Mahmood and Monty Panesar the fact that they do not celebrate Christmas.

I guess it would have been nice for everybody to be there. We are a team on tour and have just been heavily beaten and lost the Ashes. Looking from the outside, I can see how people would think it is odd.


The start of the Test. It is a disaster. We win one of those tosses it might have been better to lose. Nobody disagrees with the decision to bat but it is hard out there. It is moving, and it is moving late.

I get an lbw verdict which might not have been given on another day but it's out all right. The ball moves very late. But from 101 for 2 it all goes wrong.

The story of the day inevitably is Shane Warne. On his home ground he becomes the first man in history to take 700 wickets. Everything else is overshadowed. The ground is in raptures at the moment it happens, a leg break which goes through Strauss's bat and pad. Murali will follow him soon but after that there will be a huge gap. This is a phenomenal achievement.

The length their seamers bowled makes it very difficult. But the team know we should not have been bowled out by a leg spinner on the first day. It is completely gutting.


England hit back. Australia 84 for 5. Game on. But again the door is closed. Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds each score big centuries.

They might both have been out but decisions do not go our way. The pair play extremely well. The bowling is a fraction short but the batsmen changed their plans well.

Symonds hits a drive at head height about five yards away from me. He looked at himself, and from then on anything in his arc he threw the kitchen sank at, hitting over the top. The thing that goes through your mind is that we could have these guys seven down for not very many.

England's bowling plans go missing and there is a big hoo-hah. We're not very happy about it but there's not exactly a lot we can do considering they are being broadcast by the ABC people.


Defeat. A bad one. This is hard to take. The thing that builds it up is that it is worse in context. We were already 3-0 down and it makes it a lot worse than if it was a one-off game.

I am leg before again. I might have hit it, it might have been too high. That's cricket but there were so many decisions that didn't go our way. These things are out of your control. Damn it.

Kevin Pietersen goes up to No 4 in the order. Although he follows me, I know nothing of this. I get out of the dressing room in time to see him batting and wonder if we have lost another wicket for a minute.

This is an absolute hammering, the worst of the defeats. They have knocked the stuffing out of us. You don't want to lose in three days and not by that margin. The disappointment is massive. I don't know how to explain playing that badly.


A morose day, spent taking stock. You have to reflect on things, learn. It is a balance, isn't it? You have to realise that it is just a game, yet at the moment it is more than just a game. There are more important things to life than cricket but it is your job as well.

I look at this tour and see guys who could have years ahead of them. The planning for those years is now.

In the evening Lucy and I go to the pictures to see The Holiday. Some light relief at last.


To Sydney. On Tuesday we meet our destiny. We have to come out fighting. Each and every one has to do his bit.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor