Ian Bell

Bell rescues England again

Collected centurion Ian Bell starred for England for the second time in six days to show why he is the poster boy for Australia's struggling batsmen.

Bell stroked his third consecutive Ashes century on Thursday to rescue England from 3-28 with a patient display of batting that was sorely needed after Ryan Harris had claimed the scalps of Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen cheaply.

Bell was fiercely protective of his wicket, as was the case at Trent Bridge, where he also scored 109 and was every bit a match-winner as Jimmy Anderson.

At Lord's, Bell resisted some excellent swing bowling from Harris before unleashing a couple of textbook drives among 16 boundaries.

"The way he batted in Nottingham, he batted time. At times, it gets a bit slow but it's probably perfect," Harris said. "We spoke about our batters modelling themselves on him a bit and taking their time (after the first Test).

QUICK SINGLE: Lord's Day One Wrap

"He did the same thing today. He batted well ... we found out in Australia that he's hard to get out and he values his wicket. He's a guy I think you have to get early."

It's been eight years since Bell first was given the nickname Sherminator, a reference to the geeky character in the film American Pie, from Shane Warne.

Once derided as the weak link in England's top order - rightly so given his average of 17.1 in the 2005 Ashes series - the 31-year-old has become one of their most important players.

Having scored 115 at the SCG in 2011, his first Test hundred against Australia, Bell's knock on Thursday was one for the historians. He now scored centuries in three consecutive Ashes matches, a feat only three other Englishmen - Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond and Chris Broad - have managed.

"That's absolutely incredible. I've only just found that out now, so it's a real honour to be with those sort of names. (Playing well at) Lord's is always incredible as well," said the man who now averages almost 60 at the spiritual home of cricket.

"It's satisfying to play big innings - that's what I want to do as much as I can. "But the important thing is we need to get as big a first-innings score as we can on a pretty good wicket.

"Early this morning, we had to leave as well as possible. The ball was swinging nicely and Australia bowled very well."

Bell said the first hour of day two would be crucial for the hosts.

"The late strikes were disappointing, but we'd take where we are tonight having been three down early."

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.