Ian Bell says that if England are to save the third test and with it their Ashes crown, then Stokes and Prior have to bat till lunch.

Stokes was 72* at the end of Day 4 and Prior was 7* and the overall score was 251/5 with 253 runs more needed and three sessions to bat.

Bell who was looking in exuberant touch, gave England the first ray of hope along with Stokes and played beautifully for his 60 before he top edged one to Haddin and the disappointment could well be seen on his face because of the “inane” shot that he played.

Though, England’s hopes are still alive because of the fact that Stokes has looked in great touch and Prior has got that ability and temperament to play a big knock in such situations, the biggest example of which was back in New Zealand when Prior remained 110* and saved the game for England.

“Obviously we're still hanging in there and that's the important thing,” said Bell.

“We need to take tomorrow as deep as we possibly can and keep showing some fight. We need the two guys that are out there now to certainly bat until lunch and keep fighting - that's all we can do.

“With the pitch as it is with the cracks I felt early on in my innings that if you just try and survive then you're going to get one at some point so it's better trying to put the bowler under pressure.

"I thought Stokesy did that really well and with the way Matt plays I'm sure that will be the plan again tomorrow.”

The 22-year old Stokes batted like a very experienced batsman throughout his unbeaten knock and it was of course worth praising. 

“Ben Stokes was outstanding today,” added Bell. “He hit some great shots and I thought his character with the ball as well, running in all day like he did yesterday, showed a good sign for us. The potential for the future looks massive with Ben.”

“We're hugely disappointed,” he continued. “I don't think we've shown anyone the kind of cricket that we potentially can play.

“Hats off to Australia, they've been fantastic in all departments - they've batted better than us, caught better than us and bowled better than us. It's just disappointing that we've got it in the dressing room to come out and do good stuff over here but we haven't been able to get it out.

“Sometimes it just doesn't happen. It's certainly not through lack of desire or hunger or fight, at the minute were just not quite playing where we need to be.

“We're not going to win a lot of Test cricket if we don't get big first-innings runs and that is what is letting us down right now and we haven't done that for a while. We're obviously doing everything we can to put that right.”

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Topics:
Cricket
England cricket
The Ashes
Ian Bell