Bell ready to step up: Alastair Cook

Ian Bell was formerly a reluctant first drop, but Alastair Cook says the veteran is keen to step up the order with his career on the line.

England have promoted Bell to No.3 for the third Ashes Test following Gary Ballance’s axing.

Bell is the side’s most experienced batsman, but has averaged 10.61 in a lean run during their past six Tests.

The 33-year-old was dismissed cheaply in both digs at Lord’s and can’t afford many more failures.

Cook is confident he is the right man for the job on Wednesday, when the Edgbaston Test starts at 8pm AEST.

“He’s delighted to be back at three,” Cook said.

“It’s a great opportunity to get in and make his mark on the game.

“He’s a proven international player and I think he’ll relish the chance to bat at three.

“Also being at his home ground is a really great opportunity.”

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and former Australia captains Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell have all suggested Joe Root should be at No.3.

“The selectors would have thrown that around in the meetings,” Cook said.

“But they decided (to go with) the experience Ian’s got in terms of 100-odd Test matches.

“Belly at three and Rooty at four looks pretty good.”

There had been speculation that Bell would be dropped alongside Ballance after he failed to fire in a woeful 405-run loss at Lord’s.

Bell accepts his Test form hasn’t been good enough lately.

“It’s a brutal environment you have to perform,” Bell told the BBC.

“I know I haven’t performed to the best of my ability in the last two months.

“The only thing I can do really is focus on what’s in hand, a home Test match … I’ve got to enjoy myself.”

Root, who was man of the match in England’s 169-run win at Cardiff, backed Bell to put a poor run of scores behind him at Edgbaston.

“I think every international player is playing for his place at all times,” Root said.

“Obviously some guys are scoring more consistently than others, but Ian’s record is fantastic.”

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