2013 Ashes Man of the Series Ian Bell is eager for batting practice as preparations for the opening Test Match on 21st November step up on Thursday with the opening tour game of the winter.

England are yet to name their team to play the Australia Chairman’s XI which gets under way at 2.20am GMT on Thursday and with 17 players to pick from every player is expected to get a chance to prove their worth with Bell a guaranteed starter in the Test team.

The Warwickshire batsman has nothing to prove before facing the Australians for the first time since The Oval Test in September where bad light cut short a dramatic end to an otherwise dull Test and Bell has been busy getting himself fit for the return series after being rested from the ODI’s.

He joined Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and James Anderson in being rested in the shorter format of the game which has appeared to help even before a bowl has been bowled in Australia.

“The target was to be fitter now than we were at the start of the summer and I think everybody has done that so it’s  a good place to be. You can tell everybody is hungry and raring to go and now it’s down to the cricket skills,” Bell exclusively told GiveMeSport.

“It’s not often playing international cricket for England that you have these big windows and with me being rested for the ODI’s it was quite a long time to have a break and get my fitness levels up to where I want them to be so I can concentrate on the cricket.

“Touch wood everybody so far is in good nick so the cricket can take care of itself.”

England conducted a short practice game amongst themselves in Perth this morning with Andy Flower now expected to pick his first team of the winter to take on the Chairman’s XI which starts on Thursday.

The likes of Ben Stokes, Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin could get their first taste of wearing whites for their country after their first call up to any Test squad. Bell made a point to GiveMeSport that the fitness tests at Loughborough and the team bonding weekend before departing to Australia was a great way to introduce them to the squad.

“It was good and it’s always nice for the guys to get together before we go away. There’s a few guys that haven’t been on England tours before and that gives them a chance to meet everyone that bit earlier so now we’re out here it’s all about cricket.

“I’m hoping all the fitness work will pay off, it’s always tough but yet an exciting challenge when you go to Australia to play any cricket.

“We know what’s ahead of us and the boys have been working hard in their time off to get as fit as they can and now the next month is all about getting the skills as good as we can get for the first test match.”

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#The Ashes
#England cricket
#Cricket
#Ian Bell