Ian Bell has revealed how a players’ meeting two nights ago helped England bounce back and establish a promising position in the second Ashes Test.
Stunned by their 277-run defeat in the series opener at Brisbane, England’s players held their own meeting in the build-up to Adelaide Oval to try to get themselves back on track.
It was a meeting which did the trick, the tourists recovering from 45 for two to reach a promising 266 for three by the close of the opening day - with Paul Collingwood finishing unbeaten on 98.
"It was a bit of honesty to say we weren’t good enough at Brisbane and that came from everyone," revealed Warwickshire batsman Bell, who scored a determined 60 and shared a crucial 113-run fourth-wicket stand with Collingwood.
"We all said as players that today was an important day - and whether we were batting or bowling first, we had to go out and do it well. It was ‘Fred’s’ [Andrew Flintoff’s] idea, and all the players spoke. It was a good thing.
"We are here to play the best team in the world, and sometimes you can go through things with mediocrity and say it was good enough.
"But we had to be honest and say we weren’t good enough in Brisbane - we all said that and we all wanted to come here and show what good cricketers we are."
The home truths spoken in that meeting were enough for England to enjoy their best day of the series, with captain Flintoff winning the toss and Collingwood battling to ensure the tourists finished the day on top.
Durham all-rounder Collingwood, dismissed for 96 in the previous Test, also shared an unbroken 108-run partnership with Kevin Pietersen (60no) but ran out of time to complete his maiden Ashes hundred.
Bell said: "I hope he sleeps well. He deserves it, because he’s played really well. He played really well at the Gabba and played exactly the same today, and I hope he can go on tomorrow and get his hundred.
"We’d have liked him to have got it tonight in the dressing room. The great thing about this England team is we do enjoy each other’s success - and we were dead keen for him to go out and get a hundred, especially after getting 96 in the last Test."
Australia were frustrated at their failure to make greater inroads, after seamer Stuart Clark claimed the wickets of openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook before lunch.
Clark was the pick of Australia’s attack, finishing with two for 25. But he was given only 15 overs as captain Ricky Ponting instead relied on Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, who passed a fitness test on his bruised left heel.
"It’s always disappointing not to bowl more overs," admitted Clark. "You can’t get them out when you’re standing at fine leg, and it’s very boring down there sometimes.
"Ricky went down a different path and had some ideas in mind, but I’m sure I’ll get my turn tomorrow.
Clark added: "It was tough work, and the wicket is fairly flat. The boys stuck at it pretty well all day, but a couple of wickets more would have been nice.
"We definitely still think we’re in the game. It was always going to be hard work today - and if we’d won the toss we’d have batted as well."
If Clark has some hard work ahead the same is true for England’s strike bowler Steve Harmison, who is determined to consign his nightmare performance in Brisbane to history.
Harmison said he is confident he will not make the same mistakes again.
"Some people might say you should know better - but when it hit me it hit me hard," he said of his nervous start at the Gabba, where he returned hapless match figures of one for 177."I am man enough to hold my hands up. I would never purposely go out and let my team down.
"I am confident I can go out there, and the real Steve Harmison will turn up this time."