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    Bell: Fixing crisis has brought England together


    by ODN


    England will remain a unified force whatever stresses and strains the spot-fixing crisis may yet have in store for them or Pakistan.

    Thankfully, many will surely be thinking, Pakistan's tour has moved into its final day.

    There is much to play for at the Rose Bowl, of course, with the one-day international series locked at 2-2 after much very good 50-over cricket - a fact sadly overshadowed by the corruption controversy and its apparently never-ending repercussions.

    Ian Bell is fortunate to have been absent for most of the sad saga, recovering from a broken toe.

    But he may well be a central figure on Wednesday as England go in search of a perfect six-out-of-six series victories this summer - and he has been impressed by the unshakeable nature of the team's morale.

    Captain Andrew Strauss spoke of England's "outrage" on Sunday, after Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt had sought to deflect world attention away from allegations of spot-fixing against his countrymen by claiming their opponents had deliberately lost at the Oval on Friday - in return for "enormous sums of money".

    Strauss has strongly refuted the allegation and has since made it clear he and his team will consider legal action against Butt if that is the best way to protect their reputations.

    After much deliberation, England decided to carry on with the series - although a last-minute spat in the nets between Jonathan Trott and Pakistan's Wahab Riaz almost derailed everyone's best intentions.

    "One thing that has come out of the latest allegations has been how close we've stuck together," said Bell.

    "It has brought us tighter in our anger over what has been said. They are difficult circumstances to be involved in, but the guys knew they wanted to do what was right for the future of cricket and for the bigger picture."