Bell notes England's winning mentality

Ian Bell insists England will go all out to win their warm-up match

Ian Bell insists England will go all out to win their warm-up match

First published in National Sport © by

England are set to follow a formula they trust on tour in their Test warm-up match against a New Zealand XI which starts on Wednesday.

That means picking a near first-choice team and setting out to win at the Queenstown Events Centre ground, not merely fine-tune preparations for next week's first Test of three in Dunedin. Intensity will be high therefore, against hosts featuring three possibles for New Zealand's full Test team, when England take the field.

Ian Bell, set to bat in his accustomed number five position here, confirmed the simple plan. He said: "We'll put as strong a team out as we can. We always look to put an emphasis on winning warm-up games, not just coast through them. We want to go out there and win it, to create that momentum going into a Test series."

England will be on a fact-finding mission too, however.

The main answer they need to come up with is who opens the batting alongside captain Alastair Cook, not just here but in the Tests to follow and eventually back-to-back Ashes next summer and winter.

All the indications at practice were that Nick Compton, after his mostly effective contributions on his maiden tour of India, will retain his position at the top of the order. There appears nonetheless to be a growing clamour for Joe Root to be elevated, after his impressive debut at number six to help England close out a famous series victory in Nagpur in December.

That will be the first question answered if England bat first. Whoever gets the nod will have the chance to set the tone as England go in search of a clean sweep in all three formats here, having begun by winning the Twenty20s and then added a one-day international series success in New Zealand for the first time since 1992.

Bell spoke of a determination to continue the good work now England's Test squad is reunited.

"The group has slightly changed, from the one-dayers, with everyone back together after a little bit of a break," he said.

"Looking at the past out here, it's been hard work to win one-day series. So it'd be nice to win the Tests as well this year."

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