Bell happy to get 300 on the board
England batsman Ian Bell admitted his team were surprised by the Oval wicket as they scrapped to 307-8 on day one of the decisive Ashes Test with Australia.
"It was a tough day, scoring felt quite hard and the ball didn't come on to the bat as it usually does at The Oval," said Bell, who top-scored with 72.
"The match is right in the balance and the first session on Friday is huge.
"We've got runs on the board, with the spin we've already seen if we can get a lead it won't be easy batting last."
Bell battled to his 21st Test fifty, but remains without a century at number three or against Australia.
"I felt I played very well for two sessions, I thought there were some tough times I had to graft through and times when it felt fluent and at my best," he said.
"Obviously it is frustrating on a personal note but it's about the team, the important thing is about partnerships, we can scrap away into a position to kick on.
"It's not a usual Oval pitch. We've got to take the fact that it's spinning and we've got a very good spinner in Graeme Swann and an attack that hopefully can take 20 wickets.
"We don't quite know what a good score is here in the first innings - and until Australia have batted, I don't think we'll know either way."
Australia coach Tim Nielsen was encouraged by his team's fightback.
"The lessons learned from day one are as the ball gets older it is more difficult to score," he said.
Siddle satisfied with first day
"After losing the toss we feel we've had a reasonable day. We were able to create some pressure because they weren't scoring."
Australia seamer Peter Siddle, who took 4-63, added: "It will definitely go late into day five and it will be about the team which shows the most patience and consistency in what they do.
"I don't know about the box seat - but we are in a pretty good position after being asked to bowl first."