By India Today Sports Desk: Former England batter Ian Bell has made a bold statement regarding the Ashes 2023 despite England's heartbreaking two-wicket loss to Australia in the first Test at Edgbaston. According to Bell, Australia might have won the first Test but they are scared and England, despite the morale-breaking defeat, have the psychological edge over the Pat Cummins-led side.
Australia won by two wickets at Edgbaston, thanks to a ninth-wicket partnership between Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon. According to some commentators, Australia won because they countered England's aggressive strategies with minor adjustments and sticking to the basics. However, Bell, who played 118 Tests for England, interpreted it as a sign of fear.
"I'd go as far to say that Australia have more to work on," Bell said, as quoted by wisden.com. "After the first two days at Edgbaston I was amazed how passive Australia were. It was like England used to play Ashes series in the really bad old days. Australia looked scared. I saw that in two examples.
"First, in the field setting for England's batters in the first innings. They had sweepers out on the off- and on-side after three overs. I'd never seen anything like it and as someone who has experienced the pressure cooker of an Ashes series - I won five out of seven - being afforded an easy option for a single as a batter like that would have been unheard of."
Bell added that Australia's "only" signs of aggression came from Cummins and Lyon because they "were beaten" and had nothing to lose, giving the hosts a psychological advantage.
"As I said, I think England's intent has unnerved Australia and the only time they showed any aggression themselves was when Alex Carey was out in that extraordinary final innings," Bell said. "Basically, they only played in England's style when they knew they were beaten and they had nothing to lose. Psychologically, that is fascinating. Brendon McCullum will pick up on that."
England and Australia will meet again in the second Test at Lord's on Wednesday (June 28).