Ian Bell making no excuses

Bell making no excuses as England spend three hours practising playing spin

England's batsmen have obvious questions to answer as the tourists try to escape Dubai without a 3-0 Test series whitewash against Pakistan.

Four of the first six in the order have mustered a combined 162 runs from 16 attempts on the fast route to back-to-back defeats over the last two weeks.

They can therefore barely lay claim to a double-figure average between them, and no-one is seriously suggesting the blame for England's collective fall from grace in the United Arab Emirates belongs anywhere else.

Looking ahead: Bell is hoping for an improved performance in Dubai

Looking ahead: Bell is hoping for an improved performance in Dubai

Ian Bell certainly is not, and knows he and his team-mates simply must – even belatedly – work out how to come to terms with Pakistan spin in these alien conditions in the third and final Test, starting at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Before then, Bell acknowledges too that there will be calls from outside the camp for all sorts of remedies – from experts and non-experts alike – including for a shake-up in the batting order, or even changes of personnel.

'You can accept that,' he said. 'You have to score runs consistently all the time. This unit has done that for a long period of time.

'But we have had two bad Tests – and, of course, people are going to be asking questions. That is the reality of it. We expect that.'

England spent three hours, in two groups in the heat of the afternoon at the ICC's GCA nets on Tuesday, working exclusively on batting against spin from net bowlers.

In a spin: England spent three hours practising against slower bowling

In a spin: England spent three hours practising against slower bowling

In a spin: England spent three hours practising against slower bowling

It is clear and inevitable where their focus must lie, fathoming out a technical approach which means they can get established at the crease before Saeed Ajmal or Abdur Rehman makes short work of them again.

Little they can do in net practice will replicate the mental pressures of Test match batting, though, in such vexed circumstances as those which saw them bowled out for just 72 in Abu Dhabi last week.

Bell believes nonetheless that England's problems have come in physical reality as well as in the mind.

'I'm not too sure about that,' he said. 'We've played some really good cricket around the world, and the last bit of the jigsaw is playing in the sub-continent.

'We are looking at areas we can improve mentally and technically.

'We are all hungry enough, and have scored runs in the sub-continent.'

Slump: Bell takes tips from Andy Flower during practice

Slump: Bell takes tips from Andy Flower (below) during practice

Slump: Bell takes tips from Andy Flower (below) during practice

The solution remains to buckle down once more, and back the ability England know is there and which has taken them to the top of the world rankings.

'We have been in and out of form, and need to stay together and work hard,' Bell added. 'It's a great time to learn.

'We got to No 1 in the world, but there's so much more for us to improve and do as individuals and a team.

'You cannot stand still in this game.'

Some honest discussions took place at a team meeting this morning, and Bell reported a renewed intent to prove England can after all tame the 'final frontier' of Asian conditions which has so often proved beyond them and their predecessors.

Knocking on the door: Ravi Bopara is said to be in consideration for a starting place in third Test

Knocking on the door: Ravi Bopara is said to be in consideration for a starting place in third Test

'We have never played good cricket in the sub-Continent,' he said.

'We have started to play really well everywhere else, and this is the last hurdle we need to get over.

'We knew that; we've had a chat, and it's about the here and now.

'We have to play well here in these conditions if we want to stay No 1 in the world. There is a lot of cricket in the sub-continent, coming up.'

The first challenge is to keep Ajmal and Rehman at bay, but not to the exclusion of scoring runs – as seemed to happen in the hapless and embarrassingly unsuccessful attempt to make 145 to win at the Zayed Stadium last week.

Plenty to play for: England want to guarantee their No 1 Status is preserved

Plenty to play for: England want to guarantee their No 1 Status is preserved

'When you are playing quality spin, you have to stay there for a period of time,' Bell said.

'Wickets can tumble quickly. You can lose them in clusters – then it will go quiet, and flat.

'It can look quite comfortable then. But that's how we have been caught. We have found it hard to start our innings.

'For the guys who have got in and got past the first 25 balls, things have become easier. Not enough of us have done that.'