Cricket

Andrew Strauss hopes Ian Bell plays on

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Andrew Strauss is keen to see Ian Bell continue his Test career - providing the batsman still has the desire.

Bell, 33, is the elder statesman of England's Ashes winning side having played 115 Tests over a decade and has now won the urn on five occasions.

Michael Clarke's retirement after Australia won at the Kia Oval also makes the Warwickshire man the last active international player who featured in the unforgettable Ashes summer of 2005.

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But in a brief post-match interview with Test Match Special, he hinted that he too was considering his future and said he would "take stock" in the coming weeks.

Captain Alastair Cook cautioned against taking such sentiments too seriously in the aftermath of an intense series and Strauss, director of England cricket, insists a committed Bell has a role in the side.

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"He's at the stage of his career when he'll be thinking about what his future looks like," Strauss told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I haven't had the opportunity to speak to him yet about it but we know the number of high quality performances we've seen from him over the years.

"If he's still got the motivation and drive to continue then he's still got a very important part to play in England cricket.

"I don't want to put words in the selectors' mouths by any means, the selectors will pick the side as they always do, but what I would say is how many great contributions Ian has made to the team not just in previous years, but in this year as well.

"For all those players who played an important part in the Ashes it's time to sit down and take a couple of days off reliving the whole series in their mind without all the pressure on their shoulders."

Bell was man-of-the-series with three centuries in the 2013 home Ashes win but enjoyed a less productive time this year.

He averaged 26.87 with a top score of 65no, but Strauss was eager to point to his contribution in the third Test where he hit twin fifties in a bowler's match having been promoted to number three in the order.

"He didn't have as productive a series as he'd have liked to, but he had to change his position in the batting order and did it very successfully at Edgbaston at a time when we really needed senior players to stand up," added Strauss.

"He went and got two very important fifties for us."

Strauss praised those involved in securing the urn for England but, with tough tours against Pakistan and South Africa coming up, stressed that there was still room for improvement.

"I'm incredibly proud of the players, support staff and families for going through some tough times. There's lot of pressure and an Ashes series is one of those where you're either a hero or a zero," he said.

"The guys managed to win the important sessions at important times. It's nice to be sitting in the background taking some sort of reflected glory from it but it was all down to Alastair Cook and his guys.

"But we're very conscious this is a young, developing side and there's a lot of hard work to do.

"The final Test showed to everyone that we're not the finished article by any means...but it's nice to be Ashes winners."

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Topics:
Ian Bell
England cricket
Cricket
Australia cricket
The Ashes

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