London: Australia captain Michael Clarke said his side had been "playing with 10 players" as his lean spell with the bat continued during an eight-wicket defeat by England in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
There were several worrying aspects for Australia as they were well-beaten inside three days on Friday by a revived England team, who bounced back from their own humiliating 405-run loss in the second Test at Lord`s to go 2-1 up in the five-match series.
A particular concern is the form of the 34-year-old Clarke, one of the outstanding batsmen of his era.
But in his past 28 Test innings, Clarke has reached 25 just six times.
His run of low totals continued at Edgbaston, with innings of 10 and three seeing his average dip below 50 -- a mark that is considered a sign of an all-time great.
Other batsmen in and around number four Clarke, such as Adam Voges, are also struggling.
But Clarke tried to take the pressure off his team-mates by telling Sky Sports: "The form of number four certainly concerns me.
"We`ve been playing with 10 players and the captain`s got to come off the plane and contribute.
"England deserve credit, they`ve bowled well to me and found a way to get me out early in my innings."
England captain Alastair Cook had a measure of sympathy for his Australian counterpart.
"I`m sure he`ll come through at some stage but hopefully not in the next couple of games," he said.Someone back in the runs at Edgbaston was England`s Ian Bell.
There had been speculation that Bell, who had been struggling to impose himself on this series, might be dropped for the third Test.
But he was promoted to number three instead, with Gary Ballance axed.
Bell, on his Warwickshire home ground, responded with a first-innings 53 and then made an unbeaten 65 on Friday to see England to victory as they chased down a modest target of 121 for the loss of two wickets.
"We have to remember class is permanent," Cook said.
"He`s had a tough few games but you`ve got to keep backing the right horses and Ian Bell is certainly one of them."
England`s dominant position in a match that ended with more than two days to spare owed much to their pace bowlers.
James Anderson took an Ashes-best six for 47 in Australia`s meagre first-innings 136, made after Clarke won the toss.
Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn, in his first Test in two years, followed up in the second innings with a Test-best six for 79.
"For Steven to do what he`s done in this game after two years out was absolutely fantastic," said Cook.
Anderson, however will be missing from England`s team when the fourth Test at Trent Bridge starts on Thursday after suffering a side strain at Edgbaston.
"It`s obviously a huge miss, but whoever`s selected, it`s going to be hard but it`s an opportunity for somebody to stand up," said Cook.
Anderson, England`s all-time most successful Test bowler with 413 wickets, has an especially good record at Trent Bridge.
Clarke likened the impact of his injury to the freak pre-match accident which ruled Australia spearhead Glenn McGrath out of the 2005 Ashes Test at Edgbaston -- a match England eventually won by just two runs.
"You don`t wish injury on anybody -- as much as you want to win the game, you don`t want to play against a weaker team," Clarke said.
"Jimmy showed his class in the first innings of this game and his record at Notts is very good so maybe it`ll be a bit like 2005 when Glenn McGrath went down."