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If McGrath is fit we can handle him: Bell

"No matter who is on the park, we can keep playing our game," said the English batsmen Ian Bell.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2005 20:27 IST

England want Australia opening bowler Glenn McGrath to play in the deciding fifth Ashes test next week, according to Ian Bell.

"Whatever happens, if McGrath is fit we can handle him," England's number four batsman told a news conference at Lord's on Thursday. "We have a belief in the changing room that, no matter who is on the park, we can keep playing our game."

"It would be nice to see McGrath playing at The Oval so that we can regain the Ashes with the best team on the park. That would be the best thing for us."

England lead the five-match series 2-1. McGrath was the man of the match in Australia's victory in the first test but he missed the second test with an ankle injury, then the fourth with an elbow problem.

Bell was speaking at a news conference at Lord's in the run-up to Saturday's C&G final between Warwickshire and Hampshire.

Bell and England team mate Ashley Giles are set to play for Warwickshire, with Kevin Pietersen in the Hampshire line-up for the limited-overs encounter.

"We don't talk about any aura or anything about McGrath," Bell added. "We have our gameplans and although we know he is a fantastic, class performer, there is no chat about anything else."

Bell said Saturday's final at Lord's would be a welcome break from the intensity of the Ashes.

"I still think about England all the time, but as a county cricketer any time you get to go to Lord's it is a big day."

England scraped home by three wickets in the fourth test at Trent Bridge on Sunday after being set 129 to win. Bell fell for three, top-edging a hook off Brett Lee, but defended the shot.

"What I tried to do and what we are always told to do is to play on instinct, in a positive way," he said.

"If it sails for four or six then great, but unfortunately at Trent Bridge I hit it straight to the man. Walking off and thinking about it, I probably wouldn't have changed it because it was played on instinct."

The 23-year-old Bell has scored two half-centuries during the series but only averages 21.37 in eight innings against the Australians.

"I think this series is as tough as it gets, against the best side in the world. I realise Pakistan and India away is tough cricket too, but this is incredible," he said.

"I wouldn't argue if it rained all week. But the way the Ashes have gone, I'm sure there is something in store for The Oval," he said.

First Published: Sep 01, 2005 20:27 IST