ENGLAND were “blindsided”
by Australia last winter, but have the chance to put their Ashes whitewash behind them for good as they build for a new future.
Ian Bell is the man with that rallying call, for an era in which he hopes he and other senior players can help the next generation of Ashes winners to establish themselves.
It will all start – for Bell, returning coach Peter Moores, retained captain Alastair Cook et al – at Lord’s this week, in the first of two Investec Tests against Sri Lanka.
Bell does not seek to diminish England’s embarrassing recent past as he looks to the future.
But at 32, two Tests from a 100th cap which will almost certainly come at Headingley next week, he has a resolve to help set the tone with a return to the form of last summer – enough to win him England’s 2013-14 cricketer-of-the-year award, with which he was presented in the Lord’s Long Room on Monday night.
Last winter, almost in its entirety, was regrettable for England – and Bell believes it was in part a simple case of collective complacency.
“I don’t think we reacted well to the problems we had, and there has been plenty of fallout since,” he said.
“When you step back from it all and have a look, I think we got ‘blindsided’ by Australia.
I think we got hit unaware of where they were as a team.”
England set off last October in pursuit of a fourth successive Ashes victory, having beaten Australia 3-0 at home last summer. They returned, as few will need reminding, hapless 5-0 losers.
After their major management reshuffle, and with a team set to feature up to three Test debutants at Lord’s, Bell believes England are ready for the challenge.
“Now we’ve got to do a bit of reacting ourselves, and striving forward to get better.
“It really hurt everyone in the team to lose like that - but this was some of the toughest cricket you will ever play. It is horrible to come away from that with a 5-0 scoreline, but it will be a good experience in the long run for the younger players who were on that trip.”