Ian Bell: With Ben Stokes in the team, England would not have lost the First Test

Here's what Bell has to say about the pugnacious all-rounder in his latest column...


The way England lost the first Test was really disappointing. To have those chances to win and waste them is a big let-down – the players and supporters would probably have been less frustrated had we been absolutely annihilated.

The big frustration is that we were in the game for three days, and had opportunities with both the bat and the ball to win or draw the Test Match, and squandered them.

In England’s first innings, the platform was set. Mark Stoneman and James Vince put us in a really good position, but we had to get 400 runs. In this kind of series, you have to do that, otherwise you’re putting the game back in the balance.

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Obviously, the England batting line-up just crumbled instead, and let a real chance pass them by. They just weren’t aggressive enough, particularly to Nathan Lyon. They let too many balls go.

Before the new ball, between 60 and 80 overs, England had to be more proactive. Instead, we didn’t put Australia under any real pressure, and they just knocked our back end over.

If Ben Stokes was coming in at five or six, he would’ve taken them on.

He would’ve been aggressive against the old ball, particularly Lyon, and England could have done something.

With someone like that in the team, I don’t think England would’ve lost that first Test. We would’ve had at least an extra 30 runs from that period.

We needed Stokes out there. With both the bat and the ball. In the two major areas that need work, he’d make them better. If he was in the team, we’d be so much stronger.

They also missed Mark Wood.

There’s no doubt, if he was fully fit, he should be in the team – his extra pace would be really valuable in the middle period when the ball stops doing anything. Because, currently, we don’t look like we’re going to get a wicket there.

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What do you think?