'We can't mope around' - Flintoff
England's captain, Andrew Flintoff, vowed to remain upbeat in spite of the hammering that his side had been given in the first Test at the Gabba, and insisted that the character of his team-mates would shine through when the teams take the field at Adelaide for the second Test, starting on Friday.
"The mood in the dressing room is fine, to be honest," said Flintoff afterwards. "We've gone 1-0 down but there are some characters in that room, some real tough lads. As disappointed as we are, we can't mope around. We can't sit around thinking too much. We've got to learn from it, obviously. It's four games to go."
After some stoical resistance on the fourth day of the match, it was business as usual for England on the fifth, as they lost their last five wickets for 77 in 19 overs of the morning session. "Australia put us under pressure from the word go and we took our time to get into the game," admitted Flintoff. "We've been in this position before and we'll be looking forward to bouncing back at Adelaide."
Theories have been abounding as to why England performed so badly in the key phases of this match, but Flintoff rubbished any notion that the team had been undercooked coming into the series. "We had two important games at Sydney and Adelaide. The bowlers have got miles in their legs, and the bulk of us have been in India for four weeks. I'm pleased with where I'm at and I'm sure the rest of the lads are the same."
Steve Harmison might not quite share his captain's optimism on that score. Harmison endured a miserable match with the ball, and admitted in his Mail on Sunday column at the weekend that he had "frozen" on the big stage. "Stephen's not bowled as well as he can do," agreed Flintoff, "but he's working hard in the nets with Kevin Shine the bowling coach. He's desperate to get into this series and bowl the way he can do, and we're working hard towards that. Hopefully things will come right for him."
Flintoff was by a distance England's best bowler in this match, but he dismissed any notion that he might be forced to take the new ball at Adelaide. "My role is at first or second change," he said. "It's where I've been at my best, and there are better lads to use that new ball than myself." It could be added that he has enough on his plate already as captain and middle-order batsmen, as yesterday's tired heave down the ground might have implied. "It was just an average shot," he retorted. "I was caught in two minds, but I wouldn't read too much into it.
"We're a young side but we're quick learners," said Flintoff. "We've played a brand of cricket over a period of time that's been successful, and just because we're in Australia, that doesn't mean we're going to change the way we play. We're an aggressive team, and I think aggression's a state of mind, so we'll not make any radical changes. We'll look after our own games and the way we've been successful."
England have got little time to get their heads straight before the series resumes on Friday, but Flintoff was unconcerned at the tight schedule. "It's not a bad thing to have a Test match coming around straight away," he said. "We can sink our teeth into it and get straight into another game. We can't mope around or lick our wounds because we've got another four Test matches to play, and to be thrown into another one so soon is probably the best thing that can happen."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo