Adelaide, Australia – Ian Bell says England must quickly fix their problems if they are to keep the Ashes from the dominant Australians.
England collapsed for a third time in the series for just 172 in reply to Australia's massive 570/9 declared and are facing a 530-run deficit heading into the fourth day of the second Adelaide Test on Sunday.
Bell, who again expressed his willingness to bat at number three for England, was one of few shining beacons among the abject tourists' batting performance, scoring an unbeaten 72.
But the senior batsman admits time is running out as the Aussies close in on going two-up in the five-Test series over the closing two days of the Adelaide Test.
“Obviously, it's another disappointing performance. You can't afford in Test matches, certainly the first innings you have, to get bowled out for under 200 ... you're not going to win anything.
“We need to fix it pretty quickly if we want to get back into this series.
“It's just not good enough. We need to make sure we put that right, and we'll have an opportunity second innings to at least show people we're going to show some fight.”
Bell said the Adelaide Test was still salvageable, although it would take something special from the team's batsmen to prevent losing to Michael Clarke's Australians.
“You've all seen what we've done in the past. These games are 'saveable', but someone is going to have to play an incredible innings,” he said.
“But what we've done in the last three innings isn't going to get us close. So... probably two or three guys are really going to have to step up.
“It's a challenge, but that leads to opportunities, so we need to take it.”
Bell said England had to find an answer to the rampant Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who ripped through the tourists, taking seven for 40 and now has 16 wickets for the series at just 8.9.
“We're going to have to find an answer because he's blowing us away middle and lower order,” Bell said.
“We need to make sure we can somehow get through his spell ... we need to find a way, and pretty quickly.”
Bell said while he did not fear Johnson's pace and short-pitched bowling, it did take plenty of courage to face up to him.
“When you're playing pace, you have to have some serious courage, don't you?” he said.
“You know there's going to be a few going past your nose. I don't think we should have been surprised by this.
“He's a quality performer. He's bowled a lot more accurately in this series probably than he has in the past. I'm not surprised that he's bowled well. When he's bowling at 150 kph (93 mph), you've got to be switched on every ball.”
On the thorny question of batting at number three following the departure of incumbent Jonathan Trott with a stress-related illness, Bell said he would like to bat there.
“Yeah. It's out of my control. I'm happy to bat anywhere for this team,” he said.
Joe Root was selected at number three and looked good until he was out to a rash shot to spinner Nathan Lyon for 15. – Sapa-AFP