Ian Bell

Ian Bell: Amazing Ashes is over and new look England now faces toughest touring test of them all

England cricketer Ian Bell
Has Ian identified the next generation

England legend Ian Bell looks back on the Ashes and ahead to the winter tour of India where a new generation of players will look to replace two star names...

  • Ian reflects on a stunning Ashes series

  • Our England expert identifies Broad and Ali replacements

  • India test now awaits McCullum's men

Cricket booms off back of amazing series

So a thrilling Ashes series has come to an end. It will go down as one of the best series there's ever been and it's hard not think that a 2-2 draw was a fair result even if England dominated the last three matches.

The viewing figures and interest in cricket has gone through the roof during the series and although it could be seen as frustrating that this isn't another Test match this summer in England, there remains plenty to be excited about.

The Hundred, our own domestic T20 competition is televised on terrestrial TV and it gives fans a chance to see some of those England players in action and much of the focus will be building towards the World Cup in India in October. I'm sure if England do well in that it will capture the public's imagination just as it did when they won the title four years ago.

For the Test team, there are challenges to come. India in January is the ultimate test for a touring side because the conditions are so difficult and the home team have almost been unbeatable.

The prospect of England taking Bazball to India is mouthwatering. And how England line-up in that series will keep people talking as well.

Just like in the 2005 series when that bowling attack didn't play together again after the fourth Test, the same is true of this team after the fifth Test at The Oval.

Who replaces Broad?

Stuart Broad's retirement means England need to find a replacement. Moeen Ali will also not play again, leaving the door open for that batting and spinning all-rounder.

I think as far as replacing Broad goes, England have options and they are down the road to finding some good operators. Ollie Robinson, of course, comes back into the team. Josh Tongue made his debut this summer and it looked as though he could handle the pressure of a big series.

Sam Cook, from Essex, could do a job. I was with him with the Lions in Sri Lanka. He has a high skill level, hits the top of off with consistency like nobody else and his control of length is fantastic.

What is key is recognising that guys like Tongue or Cook need time to bed in. You can't expect either of them to be as good as Stuart straightaway.

As for a player like Moeen, there are exciting options. Wil Jacks we've already seen be involved with England, likewise Rehan Ahmed whose batting is really coming on. Both of those two could be selected for India.

Don't be surprised if the selection is Lancashire's Tom Hartley. He's a tall bowler, who bowls his spin with good pace and that could work on those India pitches. He's a similar style of bowler in terms of trajectory to Axar Patel or Ravi Jadeja.

Anderson to carry on

One player England don't need to worry about losing just yet is James Anderson. Just because Stuart has retired doesn't make him more likely to follow suit in my opinion.

It just wasn't his series. England will need his experience in India, not to mention that reliability to bowl dry. He will have big job helping this next England seam attack develop.

James Anderson hand on cap 1280.jpg

It was perhaps a shame for Jimmy that at Leeds, the zippiest of all the pitches in the series, was one he missed out on. And he had to do a lot of hard work on two of the hardest pitches for bowlers at Edgbaston and Lord's. Remember how England had to smash the ball in halfway down in the second Test?

While it's not surprising that Jimmy's form has been talked about, how refreshing is it to be talking about other players putting their hands up?

Players have come of age and England know they don't just have to rely on the same old names, the Stokes, the Roots, the Andersons. Zak Crawley was brilliant, Ben Duckett nailed his place and Chris Woakes was player of the series.

Does Bazball work in India?

As Ben Stokes said in the press conference the other day, he's been asked whether Bazball would work against Pakistan, South Africa, Australia. So, yes, it will be used in India!!

But it will be an adapted Bazball. That's what was so good about the Ashes. England showed they could learn and adapt as the series went on. In India they will need to be smart.

Conditions are so important there and if they can recognise when the pitch is at its best for batting, and they get some help with the toss in the regard, it could be a very exciting series.

How do India react? They'll say 'have a go' and no doubt they will say it won't work on them, just like Australia, South Africa and Pakistan did. I'd be amazed if they went Australia style and put out scouts on the boundary straight away. India will say: 'are you good enough to do it against Ashwin, Axar, Jadeja?'

England might just come up with the right answer. And winning there is something else, right up there with an Ashes away win. I was lucky enough to be with an England team to win India and it was a very special achievement.


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