Wednesday 13 December 2017

Honesty is best policy for Bell

Clear-the-air talks help England target final Test victory

ENGLAND'S batsmen will go into the final Test against Pakistan with home truths ringing in their ears - from their team-mates.

After the hapless collapse to 72 all out and series defeat in Abu Dhabi last week, the tourists knew they could not simply carry on regardless with their tried - and previously trusted - ways.

Instead, a meeting was called this morning to try to work out how to address the vexed issue of dealing effectively with Pakistan's spinners.

Straight talking was on the agenda, and feelings were not necessarily spared. Ian Bell, one of a clutch of batsmen who have performed way below their own high standards in the United Arab Emirates, is confident England will benefit from the frank exchanges - if not in their attempt to avoid a 3-0 whitewash here, then certainly when they head to Sri Lanka in March and India next autumn.

"We have all sat down and spoken together about what we have done and the mistakes we've made," said Bell.


"We are all desperate together as a group in wanting to do this -- win Test matches in the sub-continent -- so we all have to work as hard as possible.

"I think the strength has been how close the group has stayed together and the honesty in meetings, even if it has to upset someone."

If one awkward conversation is the source of the urgent improvements so obviously needed, England are prepared to accept the trade-off.

"If it's honest, there is no point papering over this and moving on to Sri Lanka in a month's time and making the same mistakes," added Bell.

"We don't just have meetings for the sake of it. There has to be a point in getting it out, then take it into the nets and into the Test match."

The honesty can be brutal at times, it seems, but does not focus specifically on single bad shots or avoidable dismissals.

"There is no point saying 'we were great the last two years, and nothing is wrong'.

"There are some really proud players, certainly over the last two years. We don't like coming and playing like we have done in the last two Test matches.

"But you wouldn't talk about individual mistakes."

England's final Test here, starting on Friday, is scheduled to be the first of seven more away to Asian opposition this year.


"We understand in England how to get 400, 500 - but now we need to start looking at how the teams do it on the sub-continent," said Bell.

"We have sat down and spoken about things we need to improve and we need to start doing it.

"That might not happen by the next Test, but we have Sri Lanka coming up and India -- so we have to talk about it now. We have to be honest, get it out and get it done.

England are hoping for a bitter pill or two here and now will be a lasting remedy for months, even years, to come.

"We have spoken honestly about it now," said Bell.

"We want to do it in this next Test match - but if it happens in Sri Lanka and India and we have learned from our mistakes, then it is a good time to do it right now.

"We all know we haven't played good enough cricket here and we'd be stupid just to carry on what we're doing.

"We've got a lot of tours coming up of the sub-continent and we've got to score some runs."

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