Bell admits Johnson has taken a toll on England
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Ian Bell showed no fear in the face of a pace onslaught from the Australian bowlers on Saturday, scoring an unbeaten 72 as England wickets tumbled around him.
He’s backing his teammates to show the same fortitude on the last two days of the second test and for England to avoid a second straight defeat in this Ashes series, contrary to most expectations.
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson produced a frightening spell to take 5-12 in 18 balls and finished with 7-40 as England was skittled for 172 in its first innings in reply to 570, its third sub-180 total in three innings this series.
Australia increased its lead to 530 by reaching stumps on day three at 132-3 in its second innings, leaving two full days to play.
“These games are savable but someone has to play an incredible innings,” Bell said. “As a group over a number of years, we’ve shown the amount of fight we have in that dressing room.
“We haven’t put it quite right so far on this trip but there’s a lot of guys in there with a lot of cricket still to go in this series that will show people that we have got the fight. It starts tomorrow.”
England was dismissed for 136 and 178 in the 381-run first test defeat in Brisbane, where Johnson took nine wickets. The Australian paceman now has 16 wickets for the series and back-to-back five-wicket hauls. He still has an innings to bowl at England in Adelaide before the third test in Perth, venue for his best bowling performance ever.
Many of the England batsmen haven’t been able to handle Johnson’s short-pitch bowling, with the likes of Matt Prior out meekly to him in Brisbane and Adelaide and the lower order clueless against him.
“When you are playing pace, you have to have some serious courage,” said Bell, who hasn’t fallen to Johnson at all in this series. “We need to make sure that’s the first thing that we’re getting out there and we’ve got to battle hard. You know there’s going to be a few past your nose.
“Obviously, we’re going to have to find an answer because he’s blowing us away middle and lower order.”
Bell punished Australian spinner Nathan Lyon and took 18 runs in one over from Ryan Harris, hitting nine boundaries and four sixes altogether in his 106-ball innings. Against Johnson, he played every ball as if it could take his wicket.
Asked if he was scared by the Johnson bouncers that frequently top 150 kph (93 mph), Bell said: “Not at all.”
After a pause, he added: “I can’t speak for everyone but no.”