Cricket - Bell: Win itself more important than beating Australia

Ian Bell says England took no added satisfaction from beating Ashes rivals Australia in their Champions Trophy opener at Edgbaston.

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Cricket - Bell: Win itself more important than beating Australia
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Ian Bell scored 91 before being bowled as England beat Australia by 48 runs

A strong start is vital in a tournament as brief as this eight-team affair and Bell was adamant that was England's only concern after his diligent 91 set up a 48-run success. "The important thing was to win today, it doesn't matter who we were playing," Bell said after a fine bowling performance kept Australia to 221 for nine in response to 269 for six.

"It's the first game of the tournament and we wanted to get a good start; whether it's Australia or Sri Lanka wasn't that important today, it was about getting off to a good start and focusing on what we do well."

Aside from banking two points and a healthy net run-rate, England also had cause to celebrate a red letter day for James Anderson. He started the match level with Darren Gough as his country's leading one-day wicket-taker on 234, but ended it alone at the top after taking three for 30.

It was a typically classy display from the Lancastrian, finding swing from a generally unresponsive white ball and probing relentlessly on a good line. If he can repeat that form for the remainder of the competition, England will be a tough prospect for any opposition.

Captain Alastair Cook was suitably effusive in his praise of the seamer. ''He's a great bowler, he just keeps getting better and better. We're lucky to have him,'' he said. "Jimmy and (Stuart) Broad were exceptional, not many freebies at all, and that's what you expect from experienced cricketers and they delivered.''

Bell was equally impressed with the new-ball pair, who shouldered additional responsibility in the absence of the dropped Steven Finn.

"The first 10 overs was always going to be important for us as the best time to bat, and the way Jimmy and Broady set the tone with their accuracy was very important for us," he said. "It's great for us to be able to celebrate Jimmy becoming the leading wicket-taker as well. It's been a massive day for him."

Australia were led by George Bailey in the continued absence of Michael Clarke, who continues to receive treatment in London on a worrying back problem.

There was no good news on Clarke's fitness at the end of the match. "I know he's desperate to get back," said Bailey, who top-scored for Australia with a gutsy 55. "But chatting to him yesterday he felt like progress has been pretty slow."

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