England's Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss has maintained that senior batsman Ian Bell will continue to be a part of the national team's future plans until the Warwickshire man decides to call it quits.
After having had a disappointing Ashes series with the bat, Bell had recently stated that he will be taking a call on his future sooner than later.
Reacting to the criticism surrounding Bell's poor form, Strauss came to the defence of his former team-mate and believes that the 33-year-old still has enough cricket left in him.
"He's at the stage of his career when he'll be thinking about what his future looks like," Strauss told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday.
"I haven't had the opportunity to speak to him yet about it but we know the number of high quality performances we've seen from him over the years.
“If he's still got the motivation and drive to continue then he's still got a very important part to play in England cricket."
Bell managed just 215 runs in the five-match series at a poor average of 26.87 with three fifties, although two of those half-centuries were vital knocks in England’s victory at Edgbaston.
Although he expressed strong support for Bell, Strauss insisted that the job of picking the squads remains solely with the selectors.
Strauss is confident that Bell’s impeccable track record over the years including his performances this year will be in the selectors’ minds when they pick the England side for future tours.
"I don't want to put words in the selectors' mouths by any means, the selectors will pick the side as they always do, but what I would say is how many great contributions Ian has made to the team not just in previous years, but in this year as well.
"For all those players who played an important part in the Ashes it's time to sit down and take a couple of days off reliving the whole series in their mind without all the pressure on their shoulders."
Strauss lavished praise on England skipper Alastair Cook and rest of the team for their excellent performance in the Ashes series that saw them reclaim the urn.
Although the final scoreline of 3-2 is narrower than England might have liked, Strauss is pleased with his team’s overall performance in the high-intensity series.
“I'm incredibly proud of the players, support staff and families for going through some tough times," said Strauss.
"There's lot of pressure and an Ashes series is one of those where you're either a hero or a zero," he added.
"The guys managed to win the important sessions at important times.
“It's nice to be sitting in the background taking some sort of reflected glory from it but it was all down to Alastair Cook and his guys.”
England are next scheduled to play Pakistan and South Africa away from home and the former skipper knows that his team’s ultimate test will come during that phase.
Although happy with England’s Ashes triumph, Strauss admitted that the Test team still has a lot to prove - especially abroad.
“We're very conscious this is a young, developing side and there's a lot of hard work to do.
"The final Test showed to everyone that we're not the finished article by any means...but it's nice to be Ashes winners."
Earlier in the day England skipper Cook also urged Bell to continue playing for the national team.
© Cricket World 2015