Bell: England will fight for top spot
England will "scrap" for every run and wicket to stop South Africa taking away their world number one Test status.
Ian Bell fought hard on Monday in what proved a lost cause as England were trounced by an innings in the first Investec Test at the Oval. He and his team-mates then exchanged honest opinions on where things had gone so badly wrong, and how to put them right - in defence of their world-beating status - at Headingley and Lord's.
"In a way, this match has forced our hand," Bell said. "In the next two Tests, we have to go out and fight for every single run and wicket and try to hold on to number one. There's no doubt, when you see how South Africa played, we're going to have a real scrap on our hands."
The batsman added: "We're all very proud that we've got to number one, and we definitely want to stay there for a long period of time."
If Andrew Strauss' team are unable to rouse themselves in Yorkshire, those words will be hollow already by August 6 at the latest.
But Bell, for one, is determined that will not happen.
Reflecting on England's fifth defeat in their last nine Tests, and the emphatic manner of South Africa's success - in which the hosts could take only two wickets, at the cost of 637 runs, in 189 overs - Bell conceded it may be a case of opponents supremely motivated to try to knock him and his colleagues off their perch.
"It proves to us that, no matter where you are ranked, you have to keep performing," he said.
"Opposing teams see us a bit differently now. Maybe they turn up desperately wanting to beat us, because we are ranked number one - and we have to react to that."
Bell sees coach Andy Flower as a trump card, a motivator who will not permit lame excuses but will galvanise collective and individual will. "Andy Flower will want everyone to scratch their minds and work out how they can improve - that's why he is such a great coach," he said.