Alastair Cook was left to bemoan an unacceptable batting performance from his players and warned the selectors could ring the changes after England collapsed to 103 all out to lose the second Test and allow Australia to level the Ashes series at 1-1.
Mitchell Johnson claimed three for 27 and effected a direct hit run out as Cook’s side crumbled to a 405-run defeat at Lord’s – their fourth-heaviest defeat in Test cricket in terms of runs. “It was not a good performance over the last four days,” Cook said.
“Australia got on top of us from the first morning and never let us back. Today was the icing on the cake for them; for us it was a kick in the teeth. To get bowled out for 103 is not good enough, not acceptable or up to the standard that the guys can play.”
Top of the list of concerns for the England captain and the selectors will be the repeated failure of the top order to score big runs in 2015 and the fact it is now three successive series where a victory has been followed by defeat. “I said before the game the last two times we’ve gone one up in the series, we haven’t managed to play anywhere near that standard we’ve set in the following game,” Cook said. “For whatever reason, I cannot put my finger on it. We had an opportunity here to build on the win in Cardiff and we haven’t taken it.
“Certainly over the last three or four months, we’ve found ourselves too often 30 for four or 40 for three. It’s just not good enough. We need big runs from the top order. You saw how Australia did it and how it sets up the game. It’s something we’ll have to look at over the next couple of days.”
Asked about the possibility of personnel changes before the third Test at Edgbaston that starts on 29 July, Cook said: “It’s something the selectors might have to look at.”
Among the 37 overs of chaos of Sunday afternoon was an embarrassing run out for Ben Stokes, who failed to run his bat in as Johnson’s throw from mid-on hit the stumps. “It was not great cricket was it?” Cook said. “If he had his time again he would do it differently. He’ll only do it once.”
Aside from that grumble, Cook was in no mood to blame the defeat on losing the toss on a flat Lord’s pitch and stressed no orders had been given to the head groundsman, Mick Hunt, before the Test.
He added: “We want to play on English wickets and that probably wasn’t too English but that’s nowhere near an excuse. We’ve been totally outplayed in four days and it’s down to the side to play cricket on whatever surface, to adapt to the conditions put in front of us.”
Michael Clarke praised his side for bouncing back from their poor showing in the first Test and credited that performance for demonstrating what it takes to beat England on their home soil.
Asked where Australia’s change in mindset occurred, Clarke said: “Probably before we left the changing room in Cardiff. And I always look at training. I can tell before a ball is bowled how I think we’re going to go and the boys were switched on. I sensed that hunger, from the senior players in particular. We will need that if we want to continue to have success in this series.”
On Johnson’s performance, he said: “I’ve always seen how good an athlete he was and I think today was a good example. I think the whole attack deserves credit because the way they bowled allows me to use Mitchell the way I did in this Test match.”
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