Ian Bell on Ashes 2013-14: I don't think anyone expected the series to be over so quick, but we'll be back

Australia have out-played us in every department so far

Well, this isn’t how any of us hoped things would be by the time we reached Melbourne. We always knew we were in for a fight, we always respected Australia, but I don’t think anyone expected the series to be over so quickly.

We have to be honest: we haven’t come close to matching Australia. They have out-played us with the bat, with the ball and in the field. It hasn’t even been close.

The key to our success in the series in England was that we won the key sessions. But there have hardly been any key sessions here. We haven’t gone close to earning any. They have improved in all areas since the previous summer and we have failed to do ourselves justice in any.

We can’t hide behind excuses. We can’t say we are weary or that we have kept losing the toss or anything like that. We have to face the truth, individually and collectively, and admit that we have fallen far below the standards we set ourselves. We have to do better.

The frustration is that we know we can play so much better. I know people are saying ‘the wheels have come off’ this tour, but it doesn’t feel like that on the inside. We are still working hard, we still believe in each other and, personally, I feel as if I’m playing as well as if I ever have. I know I haven’t scored the runs I would have liked this series, but it feels as if they are just around the corner. I know a few of the other guys feel the same way about their games.

But, with the Ashes gone and Graeme Swann having announced his retirement, there is a sense that we are at the beginning of a new journey. We need to rebuild, to refresh and to come again. We still have a spine of experience in the side - the likes of me, Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook - but we will also need fresher faces to come in and move the side forward. The success of the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes is very encouraging in that regard. They are going to be important players for England for many years.

The retirement of Swanny certainly took me by surprise and it probably will change the way we play. The beauty of Swann was that he allowed us to play a four-man attack. He had the skill to play a holding role for us in the first innings and attack in the second. The drift he got on the ball would draw batsmen out of position and he got so many revs on the ball that his spin or his arm-ball were always dangerous.

To left-handers, in particular, he would drift the ball in so it landed in line and then either turn it to take the outside edge or push it on with the arm to hit the pads. He is right up there with the best spinners I’ve faced, though I do think I have the odd distinction of having got both him and his brother, Alec, out to my bowling but never been out to him.

While everyone watching at home will have seen the world-class spin bowling, they won’t have seen his sense of humour in the dressing room. Swanny had a massive influence in lightening the tension when we were under pressure and reminding us all what a privilege and joy it is to play cricket for your country. Even on bad days, you were never far from a smile and a joke with Swanny and that will be missed. He has had a great career and it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him.

Clearly the tour has not gone as any of us would have wanted. Of course confidence levels have dropped and of course the mood is not as happy as it was last time when we were winning. But there is no lack of hunger or fight or determination. We have been beaten, yes, but not for lack of effort.

We’re still excited to be going into this Test. Any time you pull on an England shirt is a genuine thrill and I can guarantee everyone in the England side feels the same way. You dream of playing in Ashes Tests from your earliest days, so there is no sense at all that anyone wants to get home or put this tour behind us. You very rarely have the chance to play in front of around 100,000 people so there will be no problems whatsoever with motivation or anything like that.

But this is a new start. Now is the time to draw a line behind what has happened and build a new phase in England cricket. The Ashes are gone and this is the start of a new age in English cricket.

I aim to play for another four or five years at this level - and then a few more back at Warwickshire - and I’m very confident that with the talent we have, we can help get the side back to the top of the rankings long before then. It’s been a disappointing few weeks, but we’ll be back.

Read Ian Bell’s columns in full throughout the Ashes on ESPNcricinfo.com

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine