England batsman Ian Bell says the hundred he scored to turn the first test against Australia at Trent Bridge ranks as his best-ever Ashes innings.

The right-handed middle order batsman's knock of 109 was crucial as the Three Lions clawed their way out of trouble and into a winning position on days three and four of the opening test.

Ian Bell

"It's a great feeling to score a Test match hundred. You talk about it in the dressing room and it means a lot to everyone in the 11. It's a real proud moment," Bell told Sky Sports.

"I think it's certainly my best Ashes innings. It was nice to put an innings together when the team needed it most and to play an innings like that in that situation, using some different skills on a slow pitch with a reverse ball, it was different and I really enjoyed it," he added.

The hosts managed 375 in their second innings, leaving Australia to chase 311 to win the match. However, three quick wickets late on day four left the visitors struggling at 174/6.

Australia need 137 runs for victory while England are just four wickets away from going one-up in the series. Bell hailed the visitors for holding their ground on day four, despite a quick collapse after tea.

"It's been a brilliant Test match and today hasn't disappointed either. It's really exciting to come back tomorrow morning with all results possible. I thought Australia played outstandingly well but we pulled it back really well in the last session," Bell concluded.

Meanwhile, Australian captain Michael Clarke remains optimistic that his side can still go ahead and win the test match on Sunday. Brad Haddin and their first innings hero, Ashton Agar remained unbeaten at the end of the fourth day's play.

"I won't be surprised if come tomorrow we don't lose a wicket and we win the game just after lunch. We would like to have a few more wickets in hand, but I'm still really confident that we have a chance of winning this test match," Clarke said.