Ian Bell's Tour Diary: Now let's square the series

No-one knows how the wicket will play, which may suit us down to the ground
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The Independent Online

England needed to get out of Colombo with a draw to come to Galle still involved in the series. As soon as the fixtures came out, we knew that anything could happen at Galle. The important thing was to keep the series alive.

We have managed to do that, and looking back at Kandy, 10 more overs at the crease and we would still be 0-0, which would be even more perfect. But there are areas we need to improve on. We have shown signs in the series that we can compete with Sri Lanka here, but we just haven't done it for long enough.

A lot of the team have got in and got fifties. Sri Lanka have got three hundreds, we haven't got one yet. The stats show that when England score hundreds in the first innings they win Test matches. Two or three of us have to go on. I have been scratching my head a little bit about this. Sometimes you have got Murali bowling from one end all day, and he does take wickets, but we haven't scored big hundreds in the first innings for five Test matches now.

I was guilty again in Colomboof reaching 50 but not 100. I know I'm moving in the right direction and playing well enough at this level, but I also know that if Ricky Ponting had been in my shoes and he was on 50, he would have been 90 not out at the end of the day when it rained. That's the kind of toughness I'm looking to go towards.

Probably I was a bit over-confident at the end. I felt I was playing well enough to come down the pitch and start playing a few more shots. In England or Australia, it's a little bit easier to do. It is still a case of finding the right balance, but I don't intend to be the nearly man de nos jours.

The pitch was probably too flat. When you have got somebody like Murali in your team, you can get away with playing on pitches like that because he can turn it on anything.

I should say that Steve Harmison, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad bowled as well as I have seen three England seamers do for some time. Their stats of hitting line and length were a very high proportion. Side-bottom was 60 per cent. Even Glenn McGrath used to hit only about 50 per cent.

Playing anywhere else I think we could have taken 20 wickets the way the guys bowled. Harmison was outstanding. A fit Steve Harmison in your side is something every other side wants to have. He bounced two people out with the old ball, he bowled 42 overs and relished it.

And so to Galle. This Test is a huge match for Sri Lanka, a very emotional one for world cricket as well. Hopefully we can just get it going on a ground that I'm told isn't quite ready. I am sure that with everything that has gone on, both teams will want to get on and play the game.

In terms of the cricket, nobody really knows what's going to happen. That might help us a little bit and level the playing field, because Sri Lanka know as much as we do about the wicket.

I spent some of yesterday at the MCC ground near Hikka-duwa, built with funds raised after the tsunami. It was a wonderful experience. It is an important part of being a cricketer to go out and put things back into the game, an opportunity that we should treasure really. Graeme Swann and I played in a game with some of the local kids. I holed out to midwicket on 65. Failed to convert again.