Ian Bell: Yes, we are the men to take England forwards
We've failed but there is massive talent in this team so don't write us off yet
Sunday 23 December 2007
There are no excuses. We cannot moan about anything. England had the conditions we needed in the final Test in Galle and we failed. We have only ourselves to look at. We really believed we could get back in this series and the way it went was bitterly disappointing.
I think the potential of the side is massive and I believe there is plenty of talent. But we have to look at the disciplines we need to really go out and do things. Scoring big hundreds we haven't done that. Taking five wickets we haven't done that. Catching in the field we haven't been very good at that.
At times we have played some good cricket but we haven't done it for long enough periods of time. If you want to beat the best players in the world you have to put them under pressure for longer than ordinary players.
That applies when you're bowling at Mahela Jayawardene or facing Sri Lanka's bowling attack. You have to be able to put them under pressure for long periods rather than just doing it for a couple of sessions.
Sri Lanka is one of the hardest places to tour and it has identified the areas we need to improve on. There are some quality players not playing in the team so that's a good sign; the strength in the depth is there. It's up to all of us to take one more step up, really. The signs are good overall, but it's important we recognise the areas we need to improve on.
There has been some criticism from the fans here, especially after the third day when we were 81 all out. It was fully understandable because people have come a long way, but it did surprise me.
Don't forget that for a lot of the past five years, England have been fantastic. We had success that we had not had for a long time. Days like that [the collapse] used to be more common, it's important we don't see them again. It's vital that England go to New Zealand and show the public the sort of cricket that we can play. You have days like Thursday but it's how you react. That will judge our character as a team and as individuals. New Zealand will be a big test.
As for Galle, day one was in the balance, but after that it went downhill. The one thing that was on our mind was that if there was a place in the subcontinent where conditions were in our favour this was it, a great opportunity. It didn't happen like that. Whether we expected just to rock up here, thinking these are going to be our conditions, we're going to win this Test match, I don't know.
The frustrating thing is that the guys bowled so well in Colombo, outstandingly well on one of the flattest wickets I've played on. If we had bowled anything like that in Galle, we would certainly have bowled Sri Lanka out for a score which we could have overtaken 300 was a very good score on that pitch.
At the time of winning the toss we had to bowl. We had to get 20 wickets to win the Test match and we had to bowl Sri Lanka out quickly. Maybe we chased it a little bit knowing that. But we certainly didn't catch our catches and faux pas followed faux pas. Our fielding has let us down on this trip.
Coming to places likes this you have to take your half-chances if you want to win a series and we have put down some full chances, never mind half-chances. I hold my hand up for that as well. Players like Mahela Jayawardene do not offer many chances. You have to take them. We are disappointed, but there is still a straightforward answer to the question of whether this team can take England forward. Yes.
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