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Shane Warne
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Ashes 2013/14: Stranded Ian Bell must be promoted to three for second innings

England can't afford to waste Warwickshire batsman at five any longer

Bell to number three?

Shane Warne says Ian Bell must bat at number three in England's second innings if the tourists are to have any hope of saving the second Test.

Australia dominated day three in Adelaide, amassing a 530-run lead by the close after reaching 132-3 in their second innings having skittled England for 172 in their first.

Aus v Eng - Second Test, Day 3 Highlights

Warwickshire batsman Bell, batting at five, struck nine fours and four sixes on his way to an unbeaten 72 off 106 balls but was left stranded as the tourists collapsed from 111-3 to 135-9.

Warne believes Bell and not Joe Root (15 off 80 balls) should have been promoted to number three after Jonathan Trott flew home after the first Test with a stress-related illness.

"I think England have got to put Ian Bell at No 3 in the second innings," said the former leg-spinner. "You can't have Ian Bell stuck down there with Ben Stokes on debut, an out of nick Matt Prior and the tail.

"You are wasting him by having him at five. I know he's performed well there but you need your best players to face the majority of the balls and England can't be stubborn here.

"They have to say 'we have to bat the best part of 160-170 overs to save the game, so we need our best players to face them'.

"Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen need to be in the top four. Michael Carberry looked very good in the first innings. Those four players have got to do the majority of the work and two of them will have to make big hundreds."

Tenacious

Johnson too good for England

England suffered their third collapse of the series in as many innings as seamer Mitchell Johnson produced another devastating display to claim figures of 7-40.

The tourists' paltry total would have been worse but for a last-wicket stand of 37 between Bell and last man Monty Panesar, who faced 35 balls for his two, earning Warne's praise in the process.

"I thought Monty Panesar was very, very brave," said the former Australian spinner. "He showed a lot of character and he can hold his head high. Mitchell Johnson was bowling at 95mph- plus; there were a couple of noughts from the batsmen batter higher than him and he hasn't got as much skill as them.

"But he's tenacious and he's got a lot of determination to stand there and cop it. He didn't back away at all. He stood his ground and tried to watch the ball but he got hit a lot.

"I thought it was fantastic to see the No 11 stand his ground and try to hang in there for as long as possible. He batted for an hour.

"That's the problem with Ian Bell at five. You have the debutant Stokes at six, then Matt Prior who is horribly out of form - he's faced 10 balls in this series - and then the tail, who aren't making anything. Bell gets stranded."

Natural

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, who described the day as a 'total disaster' for the tourists, agreed with Warne that Bell has to be promoted, pointing to Bell's 45-run stand with opener Michael Carberry as supporting evidence.

"He should definitely be number three," said Hussain. "The moment Trott was sent home I said he should be number three because he is a natural number three. Bell is a touch player who uses the pace on the ball. He won't get bogged down.

"The whole point of getting rid of Nick Compton was that he and Cook were going nowhere at the top of the order. Now you've got Carberry, Cook and Root going nowhere in the first 10-15 overs. Your best player is sitting there coming in after the crisis at No 5.

"Bell has got to come in before the crisis and put the emphasis on the opposition captain and bowlers to do something different."

He added: "For a while Bell and Carberry did that and Michael Clarke had to change his plans. But that should have been done when Cook got out."

Watch highlights of day three from 10am on Sky Sports 2 and On Demand from 6.30pm, then don't miss The Ashes Verdict from 9pm and The Ashes Extra at 11pm before live coverage of day four gets underway at 11.30pm - also on Sky Sports 2.