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Andrew Strauss
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Ashes 2013: Ian Bell 'has batted England into winning position'

Player of the Day: Ian Bell

Ian Bell has batted England into a winning position with one of his best Test innings, says Andrew Strauss.

"He was under real pressure and had to absorb a lot early on. He played really fluently today."

Andrew Strauss

Bell, 31, is within five runs of his 18th Test century after guiding England to 326-6 and an overall lead of 261 at stumps on day three of the first Ashes Test.

The Warwickshire batsman shared an unbroken 108-run stand for England's seventh wicket with Stuart Broad (47no) - a stand that former skipper Strauss believes should be enough to ensure the home side go on to win the match.

"England are in fantastic position - it was a really intriguing day's cricket yet again," he reflected.

"In the final session that partnership between Bell and Broad really took the game away from Australia and it is going to be very hard for them to get themselves back into it now, I think.

"It's a hard ask to score over 250 to win any Test but especially on this wicket, which is very dry. We've seen that there is turn there and Graeme Swann will be licking his lips. It feels to me like England have got too many already."

Best

Tough day for Starc

Bell surpassed his previous best score against Australia in a home Test of 72 by striking 12 fours in a 228-ball innings that Strauss said showcased the number five's ability to deliver when it matters.

"This has been one of his best innings for England," said Strauss. "He was under real pressure and had to absorb a lot early on. He played really fluently today.

"He didn't score quickly but he showed a lot of deft touches, particularly down to third man, which is not an easy shot to play.

"Ian Bell always times it well and it was a really top-class innings; he got a little bit of luck but it is one that he will be very proud of.

"Michael Clarke was probably encouraging Bell to play that shot; he probably saw it as a high-risk shot, particularly with the odd ball keeping low. But Bell was equal to the task. He played it often and very successfully during the day."

Responsibly

Only got themselves to blame

Broad, for his part, closed the day with 47no off 122 balls after controversially deciding not to walk after he edged Ashton Agar to Michael Clarke at slip when he had 37 to his name.

Australia were unable to appeal umpire Aleem Dar's 'not out' decision because they had no reviews left and Strauss told Sky Sports that the all-rounder was well within his rights to stand his ground.

"He's played really responsibly, which isn't his usual style," reflected Strauss. "He usually goes at the bowling a lot more than that - almost in the way that Kevin Pietersen plays. But Broad knuckled down and played some good shots.

"I think it is one of the conventions in the game that you can get away with not walking; there are very few people that do. You can get away with nicking it and not walking but if you claim a catch that is dropped, it is a big deal. It doesn't make sense but it is the convention of the game.

"The batsman is within his rights to wait for the umpire to make the decision. Aleem Dar made the decision - in this case it was the wrong one.

"The review system is in place to get rid of the howler and that was, but Australia had used their review earlier on a very touch-and-go lbw decision that was going a long way down the leg-side.

"[When I was playing] we came to the conclusion that we needed the keeper, the bowler and myself all to agree because if we all agree it is probably a howler. If one or two of us didn't, then it is a speculative review and you are wasting it."