MELBOURNE // Ian Bell believes it is essential that England make a strong start when play begins on Sunday in the fourth Test against Australia in Melbourne.
Australia ran out emphatic winners, by 267 runs, in the third Test in Perth to square the series at 1-1 and they have the momentum coming to the penultimate match of the series.
Bell, the England batsman, said the best way to lower Australian confidence was by ensuring that England had the better of the action on Sunday morning.
"We're going to have to start the Test match well," he said. "We don't want Australia winning the first hour or that first session.
"It'd be great for us to be able to come out and win that first session, whether we're batting or bowling, and try and take a bit of that momentum."
While Bell acknowledged that Australia had been worthy winners in Perth, he still believes England have played better in the first three Tests.
"They played some fantastic cricket at the WACA. [But] out of the three Test matches I'd say we've been playing the better cricket," he said.
"We've had a blip at Perth. We knew Australia at some point were going to play some very good cricket and some great individual performances."
Bell, 28, is second in England's batting averages for the series with 213 runs at 71.00, trailing opener Alastair Cook's tally of 495 at 123.75.
His sparkling form, including top-scoring with 53 in England's first-innings total of 187 in Perth, has prompted calls for Bell to be promoted to No 5 ahead of Paul Collingwood.
Collingwood is averaging 15.50 in the series and looked out of sorts in Perth, making five and 11.
"It's always nice to get moved up the order," Bell said, but the 60-Test veteran added he has not spoken with team management about a promotion.
"Whether I move up the order doesn't really matter as long as we're winning the next two Test matches," he said.
"That's the most important thing to me, contributing to this team winning the Ashes.
"It's probably one of the most exciting Test matches we're going into. Playing in Melbourne is something you look forward to. A Boxing Day Test match is always special.
"The Oval in the last Ashes was a pretty big game; any England-Australia game is a huge game.
"We're particularly excited about playing on one of the best grounds in the world and trying to put right what we did wrong in Perth."
England did not train yesterday, but Bell was quick to dismiss any hint of the side relaxing as they prepare for the Melbourne encounter.
"Just because we haven't been at the nets playing cricket, the guys have still been at the gym, doing their physical work and making sure we're still ready," he said.
Bell, who averaged just 25.68 in 13 previous Ashes Tests before the current series, feels he has improved significantly in the past 18 months.
However, a century in an Ashes Test eludes him.
His highest score against Australia was the 87 he made in Perth four years ago.
"I'm desperate for an Ashes hundred, there's no doubt about that. I'm hoping with the way I'm playing there's one around the corner," he said.
"I think I'm starting to show the kind of cricketer I think people saw in me in my early ages."
His teammate, Kevin Pietersen, predicted Bell would shine wherever he bats in Melbourne.
"Belly is in the form of his life," he said. "We're very lucky to have someone who can bat anywhere: one, two, three, four, five, six."
Pietersen also is convinced that Collingwood, despite his below-par series to date, will deliver a big score.
"The thing about Colly is, and we all know, that when he has his back against the wall, the one man who is going to deliver is Collingwood," he said.
"I would not be surprised if we are 100 for three this week, and Collingwood gets 150."