Ashes 2015: Michael Clarke demands more of bowlers, himself
Australia captain Michael Clarke called for an improved performance by his attack and was even harder on himself after an eight-wicket defeat by England in the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday left his side 2-1 down in the five-match Ashes series.
Birmingham: Australia captain Michael Clarke called for an improved performance by his attack and was even harder on himself after an eight-wicket defeat by England in the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday left his side 2-1 down in the five-match Ashes series.
A remarkable match ended inside three days as England pacemen James Anderson and Steven Finn took six wickets each in below par Australia scores of 136 and 265 respectively on a seaming but far from unplayable pitch in Birmingham.
As a result, Australia`s bowlers didn`t have anything like sufficient runs to play with, particularly when England were chasing a modest target of 121 for victory.
That England needed a three-figure score to win was in large part down to the fact that Australia`s last three wickets added 97 runs between them on Friday.
This was a rebuke to Australia`s specialist batsmen, with opener David Warner (77) the only member of the top six to make a double-figure score in the innings.
Nevertheless, it was true that Australia`s attack lacked England`s accuracy, after their extra speed proved a trump card in the second Test at Lord`s where the tourists won by 405 runs on a placid pitch to square the series at 1-1.
"We had perfect bowling conditions. Overcast, a little bit of rain around and we just couldn`t hit the areas consistently," Clarke said.
"The ball swung and seamed for the whole game. We had to be better than what we were," he added ahead of next week`s fourth Test across the Midlands at Trent Bridge.
Mitchell Johnson, in the course of becoming just the fifth Australian to take 300 Test wickets, started Thursday`s second day in sensational fashion with a couple of sharply rising deliveries that had both Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes caught behind off the glove.
And fellow left-arm quick Mitchell Starc gave Australia a glimmer of hope on Friday when he bowled England captain and opening batsman Alastair Cook with a full and swinging ball for seven.
These though were rare highlights, and while Australia`s occasional waywardness at Lord`s was masked by the fact that they had already put a commanding 566 first-innings runs on the scoreboard it was a different story at Edgbaston.
Australia`s difficulties against the swinging and seaming ball have led to accusations their batsmen are "flat-track bullies".And while it would be harsh in the extreme to blame Australia`s bowlers for their defeat at Edgbaston -- all attacks like having plenty of runs on the board -- Clarke challenged them to maintain the standard they had set at Lord`s.
"I don`t think we executed as well as we did at Lord`s, certainly in the first innings," he said.
"It is a tough one because you see both sides, you see the way we bowled here and Cardiff (where England won the first Test by 169 runs) wasn`t good enough.
"You see the way we bowled at Lord`s and that was as good as any attack you will see in world cricket."
Meanwhile the 34-year-old Clarke, one of the leading batsmen of his generation, didn`t spare himself from critical analysis after scores of 10 and three at Edgbaston left him with a meagre series aggregate of 94 runs in six innings at an average of under 19.
"I think it`s always going to be hard to beat any opposition when they`ve got 11 and we`ve only 10," Clarke said.
"It is time for the captain to get off the plane and turn up.
"With my performances so far, I certainly haven`t led from the front as I`d like to do as captain."
As for the persistent barracking of Johnson by a raucous Edgbaston crowd, Clarke said: "I think it`s fantastic ... a big part of homeground advantage, you`ve got the crowd behind you.
"That`s one of the best things about playing sport at the highest level."