Ashes 2013-14: Ian Bell heaps praise on England’s Ben Stokes

Ashes 2013-14: Ian Bell praises the contribution of Ben Stokes after all-rounder kept England's faint hopes alive on day four of third Test

By Daniel Jolly

Ian Bell praised the contribution of Ben Stokes after the Durham all-rounder kept England’s faint Ashes hopes alive in the third Test at Perth.

The 22-year-old led a defiant batting display by the tourists, ending the day on 72 not out, alongside wicketkeeper Matt Prior (seven not out) as they reached 251 for five at the close of day four.

Chasing an improbable 504 to win and delay the inevitable relinquishment of the urn, things look bleak but Bell is still hopeful of a turnaround in fortunes, with Stokes and Prior leading the resistance.

“There are a few cracks on the wicket but apart from that it’s a good surface. A bit of luck our way and you never know,” Bell told Sky Sports 2.

“You do see a lot of pitches go like that. This has done a bit more than other pitches in Australia. If you get one that goes off the crack then fair play.

“Since we’ve been here Stokesy has looked a real batsman, everything about him looks as though he’ll have a great future with England.

“Matt (Prior) hasn’t had a great eight or nine months but we know he’ll look to fight tomorrow.”

After Australia resumed on 253-3 at the WACA, they plundered 134 runs in just 17 overs to continue their dominance in every department.

In one extraordinary over, George Bailey hit James Anderson for 28 – the joint highest total in a Test over, as they set Andy Flower’s side a 500-plus target for the third consecutive match.

Following another poor display in the field, Bell acknowledged the performance wasn’t up to scratch.

“It was a disappointing morning for us. We didn’t set our usual standards and I hold my hands up for that.

“We let ourselves down in the field but I think we put a lot of that right later on. Me and Stokesy were trying to be as positive as we could and hopefully we can continue in the same way in the morning.”

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