Australia are a laughing stock, says Michael Clarke
‘We’ve got so much support ... but we’re letting ourselves and our supporters down at the moment’
Australia’s captain Michael Clarke: ‘What can I say? Our performance in the first innings was unacceptable’. Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters
Clarke provoked some chortling in the crowd when he insisted to Sky’s Mike Atherton that Australia could win the remaining three Tests to regain the Ashes at the post-match presentation ceremony in front of the pavilion. “I heard a lot of the crowd laugh when I said that, and rightly so,” the captain reflected later.
“What can I say? Our performance in the first innings was unacceptable. Just about everyone in our top seven has made a 50 so far in the series which shows that the talent is there. We just didn’t have the discipline that England had – they were willing to bat for long periods and graft through the tough times.
“We’ve got so much support here and in Australia but we’re letting ourselves and our supporters down at the moment. We’re letting our bowlers down as well.”
Clarke accepted a large share of the responsibility for that collective failure after making 51, his highest score of the series and the third consecutive innings in which he has passed 20 without going on to the big score Australia needed. “I haven’t scored enough runs, it’s as simple as that. I’m as responsible, if not more accountable, for my poor performance in the first innings [when he was lbw to a Stuart Broad inswinger for 28]. My shot selection was extremely poor. I expect better from myself and this team needs me to make sure when I get a start like that I get a big score.”
He plans to play in the three-day tour match against Sussex that starts at Hove on Friday and said he had no knowledge of the selectors looking outside the squad for batting reinforcements – although David Warner is expected to rejoin the Ashes party in Brighton after playing a second game for Australia’s A-team this week.
England’s captain, Alastair Cook, confirmed that Kevin Pietersen is “a concern” for the third Test, which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday week, although he stressed his calf injury is “a slight strain and not a tear”.
He conceded that England’s batsmen had also had cause to be grateful to their bowlers over the course of the first two Tests. “Twice now we’ve been below par with the bat in the first innings but our bowlers have dug us out of a bit of a situation with some seriously skilful bowling.Certainly in this game to win by as big a margin as that is obviously a testament to the 11 guys who played for England. At the end of the first day it was probably even stevens. But from that moment we really upped our level with ball and bat.”