Bell eyes Ashes history this summer

Veteran hoping for a Test recall and a chance at a record sixth Ashes victory

Veteran batsman Ian Bell says he's eyeing a return to England's Test side and has targeted making Ashes history later this year.

Bell, who has 118 Test caps, has not played for his country since failing to score in the second Test against Pakistan in November 2015, just a few months after winning his fifth Ashes series.

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England, under new captain Joe Root, will face Australia in Brisbane in November in the first Test of the 2017-18 tour.

Ian Botham and Wilfred Rhodes are the only other Englishmen since 1900 to have won five Ashes series and Bell wants to top them if he can earn a recall.

"I've been lucky enough to win five Ashes, no one has ever won six so there's always a carrot for me if I was lucky enough to get into that squad," Bell, part of winning Ashes sides in 2005, 2009, 2010-11, 2013 and 2015, said.

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"There's no doubt, on an individual level, to be part of a squad which wins six would be something pretty special.

"You always think about it. I still have ambitions to play for England. I enjoyed playing in the Big Bash (for the Scorchers) which was as close to playing international cricket without playing for England."

While Bell shares the record for most Ashes series wins by an Englishman since 1900, he's well short of the all-time mark of eight held by former Australia captain Steve Waugh. Shane Warne (seven), Glenn McGrath, Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor and Ian Healy (all six) also have more Ashes wins than any Englishman.

England's middle order has been in a state of flux since Bell was dropped with the likes of James Vince, Gary Ballance and Ben Duckett all tried and discarded over the past nine months.

The right-hander says his 18 months away from the international scene has helped him.

"Initially having been left out I didn't know what to do going forward. Having a bit of time away from it I realise I really have missed it," said the 34-year-old, who has scored 7727 Test runs.

"I'd been on the road a long time and I look back on whether I should have taken a break after the Ashes and had six months away from it. I don't know if that would have been the right move or not.

"I didn't want to take an easy option, I wanted to fight my way through. I won't be the only one with ambitions to get into that England team."

Bell scored three centuries in the home 2013 Ashes series before England slumped to a 5-0 defeat in Australia a few months later. The 2013-14 whitewash is one of two Bell's England has suffered during his career having also fallen to the same fate in 2006-07.