The general assumption is that a resurgent England — after their historic Test success in India, their improved one-day international series performance there and wins in both limited-overs formats here — should brush aside New Zealand and take an early confidence boost for their year of back-to-back Ashes to come.
Bell, naturally, is hoping that optimism proves well-placed. He knows too, though, that New Zealand are stubborn and able opponents on home ground.
As Alastair Cook’s tourists practised yesterday before their only warm-up match, a four-day fixture against a New Zealand XI starting in Queenstown tomorrow, Bell made it clear it is no foregone conclusion that England will simply sweep their hosts aside.
“We’ve still got to earn it,” he said. “It’s hard to win a Test match; you can’t just pitch up and win.
“On the last tour I came here, we lost in Hamilton and didn’t do our basics right (there).
“We have to do that this tour. We know there’s some real quality in that New Zealand team, and we have to keep a lot of pressure on them from the first ball.”