England batsman Ian Bell is keen to prolong his career, but hinted at international retirement after saying he will “take stock” of his future in the next few weeks.
Bell – one of only three Englishmen, after Sir Ian Botham and Wilfred Rhodes, to feature in five Ashes-winning campaigns – was hit-and-miss in England’s latest series victory over Australia.
The 33-year-old was shifted up the order to No 3 after an indifferent start and he responded with a brace of crucial half-centuries on his home ground of Edgbaston, although he made just 24 runs in three innings at Trent Bridge and The Oval.
His place should be under no immediate scrutiny but Bell, now the only active international cricketer to have featured in the famous 2005 Ashes series after Michael Clarke’s retirement, revealed the rigours of the game could prompt him to walk away.
“I’m pretty tired and looking forward to a break,” he said. “Ashes series take everything out of you. They are physically and mentally draining.
“Hopefully, I’ve got a lot of cricket ahead of me. I’ll take stock over the next few weeks.”
England descended to defeat by an innings and 46 runs in the fifth Investec Test to narrow the margin of their 2015 Ashes series success to 3-2.
The hosts lost their last four wickets for 83 runs either side of a two-hour rain break on day four at The Oval, and were bowled out for 286. They knew that they would be holding the urn up to a packed crowd at the conclusion.
But there was a hollower ring to celebrations for Alastair Cook’s team, after Moeen Ali was last out to Peter Siddle to confirm them significantly second-best here.
Siddle (4-35) made the first breakthrough of an increasingly overcast day, under floodlights in his second over with the second new ball, when he beat Mark Wood’s forward prod.
Jos Buttler regained form in the attempted rearguard, but he gave it all away eight short of his 50, to the 107th ball he faced, when he chipped Mitch Marsh on the up to a tumbling mid-off.
After the rain delay, Stuart Broad was bowled off-stump by Siddle and the series ended when Moeen wafted an edge behind off the same bowler.