London, June 22 : Former England batter Ian Bell feels Australia looked scared in the first two days of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston and added that the Pat Cummins-led side still has a lot of work to do despite winning the match by two wickets.
Captain Cummins led Australia to a thrilling victory in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston through an unbeaten 44 and a match-winning ninth-wicket stand of 55 with Nathan Lyon (16 not out) to chase down 281 on the last day. Australia’s win came following Ben Stokes’ daring first-innings declaration on 393/8 on day one’s play.
“I’d go as far to say that Australia have more to work on. After the first two days at Edgbaston, I was amazed at how passive Australia were. It was like England used to play the Ashes series in the really bad old days. Australia looked scared. I saw that in two examples.”
“First, in the field setting for England’s batters in the first innings. They had sweepers out on the off- and on-side after three overs. I’d never seen anything like it and as someone who has experienced the pressure cooker of an Ashes series – I won five out of seven – being afforded an easy option for a single as a batter like that would have been unheard of,” Bell was quoted as saying by Wisden.
Bell opined Australia looked to match England’s aggression only when Alex Carey was batting in the first innings. “It was also interesting how nervous Steve Smith was. Why didn’t he launch himself at Harry Brook? Why did he barely play a stroke in anger? As I said, I think England’s intent has unnerved Australia and the only time they showed any aggression themselves was when Alex Carey was out in that extraordinary final innings.”
“Basically, they only played in England’s style when they knew they were beaten and they had nothing to lose. Psychologically that is fascinating. Brendon McCullum will pick up on that.”
“In the aftermath of the epic at Edgbaston England will feel exhausted and hugely disappointed. But once the dust settles they may come to realise that despite being 1-0 down in this Ashes series, they have got a psychological grip on Australia.”
Ben Stokes backed Ben Stokes to lead England to a series victory, as the hosts aim to come back from 1-0 behind through the second Test at Lord’s starting from June 28. “I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Ben Stokes’ team come from behind and win the series. I know a thing or two about coming from behind to win a home Ashes series. And I know a thing or two about Edgbaston epics.”
“Back in 2005, when I was right at the start of my England career, the tight result went our way. If it had gone against us, maybe we wouldn’t have come back but this England team have so much aggression and are relentless in their approach that Australia will be extremely wary.”
Bell signed off by saying he had “no issue” with the send-off given to Usman Khawaja by Ollie Robinson. “It is going to be spicy on the field at times – rightly so – and that is why I have no issue with Ollie Robinson giving Usman Khawaja a send-off.”
“I had plenty of send-offs when I was playing this lot, believe me. It is part of it. Maybe I was a bit surprised that Ollie doubled down in the press conference but every word he spoke was true. If you can’t handle it.”