Ian Bell: England were outplayed
Ian Bell admits England's crushing innings defeat to South Africa was something of a wake-up call, but insists it has only made the England players more determined to bounce back in the second Test at Headingley.
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England face an uphill battle to retain their number one Test ranking after the Proteas drew first blood with a thumping victory in the first Test at the Kia Oval on Monday.
Both sides have a 10-day break before battle resumes in Leeds on Thursday week, and Bell admits that period will give England's players plenty of time to work on their failings in south London.
Offering up no excuses for the series-opening defeat, Bell told Sky Sports News HD: "Obviously it was a very tough Test match for us. Credit to South Africa, I thought they were outstanding from the second morning and outplayed us.
"We've got to come back hard now at Headingley. It was thoroughly disappointing but everyone will be up for it next week.
"We had a good chat last night. Some good honesty was talked about around the team, we'll have to come back, there will be some big preparation around the team both individually and when we come together as a group on Monday. We need to get things right."
An England defeat was almost unthinkable after the first day when, thanks to a 20th Test century from Alastair Cook, the home side reached stumps on 267-3.
But South Africa roared back on day two, dismissing England for 385 before batting for the best part of two days to rack up an almighty 637-2.
With England 252 runs in arrears heading into their second innings, Bell, who scored his slowest ever Test match half-century, offered up the most resistance of the England batsmen, who threatened to salvage a draw before Dale Steyn's match-winning burst with the second new ball.
Bell added: "We had to bat time in that second innings but unfortunately we didn't face enough balls as a batting unit. It was a real shame because we've done it before.
"Steyn showed why he is ranked the number one bowler in the world when he got that second new ball in his hands. When it really mattered he led the attack brilliantly for South Africa.
"Individually we can all look at the shots we got out to. If we are honest there were some soft dismissals right the way through the Test match. We pride ourselves on not only having a great bowling unit but we got ourselves into a position to score 500 in the first innings and we didn't do that.
"We have to learn from those mistakes at Headingley."
With England's bowlers only mustering two wickets in 189 overs at the Kia Oval, inevitable speculation is growing over possible team changes for the second Test.
But Bell believes this is no time to panic, especially as the current crop of bowlers have served their country so well in recent matches.
"We've had a lot of success with four bowlers, they have all been outstanding," he said.
"This is the first time we probably haven't got 20 wickets for a long time and definitely the first time we haven't got 10.
"We have to look back longer than the last Test match. We have got an unbelievable amount of seamers to choose from in this country and I'm sure all the bowlers will be determined to bounce back at Headingley."