Widely considered one of the greatest Test series of all time, the 2005 Ashes represent a monumental moment in the lives of many English cricket fans and for Ian Bell, it was no different.
The English batsman, and owner of one of the best cover drives in the history of the sport, has been discussing his experiences on the latest episode of ‘The Shackles Are Off’ podcast.
Bell went on to play 287 games for England and score more than 13,000 international runs but the 2005 series proved something of a steep learning curve for him.
The Warwickshire man, famed for his elegant strokeplay, managed just 158 runs in the series but credits it as a fantastic learning experience and suggested he wouldn’t change how things played out for the world.
Speaking on the latest episode of ‘The Shackles Are Off’ podcast, he said: “It was a bit of an eye-opener really for me. I played against West Indies in a Test match and then I got picked for the two Test matches against Bangladesh before.
“I scored 100 against Bangladesh and I was thinking ‘this is going nicely’ then, all of a sudden an Ashes turns up.
“I knew how big the Ashes was. That’s what we do and that’s what you want to play in but all of a sudden everything began to ramp up.
He added: “I didn’t score the volume of runs that I wanted to or that you need to do as a frontline batsman but I think it was the best thing that could have happened educationally because it was like ‘OK, I’m playing against my heroes here, your Pontings, Langers, playing with some top England players as well, If I want to be a Test match cricketer for a long time I’m going to have to improve a lot.”
“It wasn’t one memorable for me in terms of my performances but I would never change that for the world. You actually felt the whole country, certainly from that Edgbaston Test match to the Old Trafford game, the whole momentum was just building. It was just what cricket needed at the time, that’s what we felt.
“It was memorable to be part of. Seeing some of the best performances, Flintoff’s spell at Edgbaston, Kev’s innings at the Oval, things that will go down as the best performances in English Test match history.
“It was a tough one individually but I think a learning one. I look back and of all the seven Ashes series I played in, I’d probably put that team and the team we played against the following tour as the best Australian side I played against.”
Pressed on whether it was daunting difficult facing the likes of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Bell said: “Absolutely. That’s probably what I learnt through the mistakes I made in that series. KP talks about it a lot but you have to play the ball, not the bowler.
“Warne and McGrath were the masters of creating pressure where there was nothing happening and there were no wickets. They’d find ways, whether it was changing the field or slowing the tempo down, they were masters of putting pressure on.
“They knew how to put pressure on me as a young player.”
For the full interview with Bell, make sure you check out the latest episode of ‘The Shackles Are Off’ podcast.