Ian Bell on the Ashes 2013-14: Australia will come at us hard, but we'll deal with that – and the nerves

View From The Middle: There is nothing more exciting than the first morning of an Ashes series

It's time to get down to business. We've been in Australia a month and we've enjoyed an excellent preparation period. But that's done now. All anyone wants to do is get on with the cricket.

These are moments you dream about. It is always a privilege to represent your country and travel the world playing Test cricket, but there is nothing more exciting than the first morning of an Ashes series. It really is as good as it gets.

There will be some very nervous cricketers taking the field in Brisbane on Thursday. It doesn't matter if it's your 10th game or your 100th, the first Test of an Ashes series is as special as any you can imagine and every person taking the field will be struggling to conceal the nerves.

There is a fantastic atmosphere at The Gabba. I've played two Tests there and endured a tough first day in both of them. When Australia are on top, the noise is quite something; after Peter Siddle took his hat-trick in 2010, there was an unbelievable sound in the ground.

Of course you want to start well, but people make too much of these things, really. In 2010, we had a poor first day and conceded more than 200 on first innings, but we still went on to win the series. This team has shown, not least in India a year or so ago, that we bounce back well and that we are at our best with our backs against the wall.

Our preparation has been good. While there has been a fair bit of rain around, we've still had time for four of the top five to register centuries and all the bowlers to get overs in their legs. It's not ideal that our vice-captain, Matt Prior, is still an injury doubt, but it might prove helpful that Jonny Bairstow has enjoyed some time in the middle. If he ends up coming into the side during the series, he will be well prepared.

The only other selection issue concerns the final fast-bowling spot. I've really no idea which way the selectors will go, but I can guarantee that whoever plays, they will have the full backing of the rest of the team. As a batsman, I find dealing with the extra bounce of tall, fast bowlers the most difficult proposition in cricket, so to have three giants vying for the last spot in our side bodes very well for us.

It was a good idea to start our tour in Perth. The nets there are very fast and it gave everyone an opportunity to get to grips with what the conditions can be like in Australia. The core principles don't change. You still have to score large first-innings totals; you still have to leave the ball well. So it's not as if you make any technical changes; it's just you have to be aware that there is a bit more bounce and pace.

Once you are well set, there's nowhere better to bat than Australia. I consider it the No 1 tour in world cricket: great facilities, fantastic weather, wonderful cities and countryside and tough, competitive cricket. It's such a cricket-loving nation that we tend to be recognised more often than we are at home, but the people are so friendly it's never been a problem.

Our record over the last few years has instilled a confidence in the squad, but there is no lack of respect for the Australian team. If we are to win this series, it is essential our top three or four get through the first 20 overs with the new ball. It is by far the toughest time to bat in Australia but if you can get through it life does become a bit more straightforward.

Australia's record at home is excellent and their record in Brisbane is daunting. We are expecting them to come at us hard in the first Test.

We all know there has been some talk in the papers over here about us, but we really don't take any notice. You expect these things ahead of an Ashes series and one of the fundamental policies of our team is that we don't allow talk about such things to enter the dressing room. The news about our diet plans clearly surprised one or two, but we're always looking to improve and searching for one per cent here and there, and good nutrition can play a part in that. I'd be amazed if the Australia squad don't have a similar approach.

This will be a particularly special game for Kevin Pietersen. Playing 100 Tests is an incredible achievement and testament to his quality, his fitness and his determination. He has already enjoyed a wonderful career and he remains a quality player and arguably the only guy on either side who can turn the game on its head in a few hours.

We know Australia are going to come at us hard in the next few days. We know they are an improving side and we are hugely respectful of their excellent record at The Gabba. But we know what to expect and we are confident that we can overcome. We are ready.

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


Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice