London: Ian Bell, the England batsman, has admitted that his side has paid the price for resting on their laurels after reaching the top of the ICC Test rankings chart.
England must beat South Africa in the third and final Test at Lord's starting August 16 to retain the number one spot and Bell believes they will have only themselves to blame if South Africa dethrone them.
Bell expressed concern at his side's dismal showing in recent times which has seen them lose five of their last 10 Tests since replacing India as the number one Test team. "We were so hungry to get to number one and that feeling of chasing number one is something that drove us really hard," Bell said. "It's been a bit different being the team being chased by the other teams, a bit like the position India were in 2011."
"Getting to number one was just part of it. As a group we wanted to stay there as long as possible. But we haven't performed. Over the last 12 months we haven't really been in the form of the last three years so it's put us under pressure to stay there. We have got to learn from these lessons if we want to keep being number one or if we want to get back there if we lose the spot," he said.
Bell admitted South Africa's knack of taking early wickets and ability to bat for long periods has given them the edge in the series. But he felt they could take out some positives from the second Test in Headingley and South Africa will be conscious of England's ability to retrieve the current situation.
"Things just started to turn at the end of the Headingley Test and hopefully we can take that momentum into Lord's," Bell said. "We have always believed we can beat any team, certainly in England. The three series I have played against South Africa have been really tough and really close and I don't expect this Test match to be any different."