Ian Bell: Win the first hour and we'll be back in the series

View From the Middle: Immediately after the loss in The Oval dressing room we talked about where we had gone wrong and how we could avoid such errors again

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The Independent Online

We know we can win this Test series. We believe it, we have got to believe it or South Africa will beat us. We are desperate to win the first hour of this match after what happened at The Oval.

But if and when we do that, as in all Test cricket, it is vital not to look too far ahead. Do that and the game will bite you on the bottom.

I am not sure that was the reason for our heavy defeat in the first Test but after the first day it is true that South Africa won the key moments. Of course, we knew what a good side they were, a mature group of cricketers, most of whom have been together a long time.

They know how to respond in a match as they showed after the first day at The Oval when we reached 273 for 3 and were in a strong position. On the second morning in favourable conditions they bowled a bit straighter.

We had been allowed to leave a lot of balls on the opening day but that changed and the result was they made inroads. It was the mark of how good they are that they never let us back in after that.

Immediately after the loss in The Oval dressing room we talked about where we had gone wrong and how we could avoid such errors again.

An outstanding feature of this England team and why we have managed to be successful for two years or so is our honesty, both in victory and defeat. So in that team talk we were honest with each other. It is what makes Andy Flower such an exceptional coach – he wants players to look at themselves, to take responsibility, always to look how they can improve.

Despite our recent record here I am very happy to be returning to Headingley. It is one of those vibrant grounds where the support is always loud and constant, a bit like Edgbaston. I'm not sure there will be much Olympic effect because the place is always vibrant.

It is time we won here after losing the last two Tests, but equally we won the three before that. There was a tinge of grass on the pitch yesterday so, as in the rest of this season, batsmen can expect to find it hard work. But we don't mind that, it's what we do.

We welcome a new player into the side in James Taylor, who will be endeavouring to nail down the No 6 position. He's bound to be nervous but he looks a solid player, one who knows his game and, if I'm batting with him, I'll try to help him through that first half-hour.

It's sad that Ravi Bopara had to make himself unavailable for personal reasons and we can only wish him all the best.