Bell refreshed and raring to go
England batsman Ian Bell has enjoyed a rare break and is now itching to get back into action against Pakistan.
Last Updated: 04/01/12 5:22pm
Ian Bell has enjoyed a rare break and is now keen to get back into action after arriving in the Middle East for England's matches against Pakistan.
The tourists were minus only Alastair Cook, on a leave of absence following his wedding five days ago, for their first net practice in Dubai on Wednesday.
Opening batsman Cook will join his colleagues for Thursday's session at the International Cricket Council's global academy.
England returned from two months of relative inactivity, following their unsuccessful one-day international tour of India, to prepare for series in all three formats with Pakistan.
They begin their warm-up programme with a three-day contest against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI, captained by Ireland's Will Porterfield, on January 7-9.
Bell, who was picked for just one match in the 5-0 drubbing in India but made a double century against those same opponents in his last Test innings at the Oval, is delighted to be back to work.
"It's nice to have had a break. But a month or two into it, you're itching to get back in the nets and practise," he said.
"It was brilliant to get out there. We're lucky to be able to use these facilities in preparation for a Test series - it is exactly what you need.
"We're going to really enjoy the next week of preparation, and getting ready."
England know they will face a stern examination of their new-found number one Test status against 'hosts' forced to take on the world in a neutral venue but who have already proved formidable opponents in the United Arab Emirates.
"Pakistan have been playing some really good cricket, and obviously know these grounds pretty well - having played here for a while now," added Bell.
"It's going to be a tough series, and we've got to prepare really well for the next week and make sure we're ready to go for this next Test match."
Bell remains keen to bat at number three in Test cricket but will happily slot in anywhere in the interests of the team.
The 29-year-old could hardly have put forward better credentials for the coveted role, by hitting 159 and then a career-best 235 in only three attempts while England's first-choice number three Jonathan Trott was nursing a shoulder injury during last summer's 4-0 Test series victory over India.
"My goal is to bat three," said Bell. "I think that's where you can test yourself, and certainly there is a part of me that wants to bat there.
"I've had success at five, I've had success at six - and I'm very happy to bat there. I'll bat wherever the team want me to bat.
"My long-term goal is I want to bat in the top three. But for me now, it's just a matter of scoring runs in this series."
Bell thinks a fit-again Trott will slot back in at three against Pakistan, saying: "That's 100 per cent probably what will happen.
"I'm clear in what I need to do. At the end of the day, we're a batting unit and we have to score runs to give our bowlers a chance of winning a Test match.
"So whether it's three or five, I'll be prepared to bat there. But I'm pretty sure it will be number five."