England v Australia, 2nd npower Test, Lord's, 5th day July 20, 2009

We can regroup - Ponting

Ricky Ponting has blamed "fundamental skill errors" for Australia's second Test defeat but remains convinced his side can be patched up in time to hit back at Edgbaston next week. While Mitchell Johnson's bowling was the biggest concern of the 115-run loss, there are also serious worries over the opener Phillip Hughes and the decisions of the batsmen.

Australia were behind from the opening session, which began with Johnson spraying the ball, and were out of the match when they fell for 215 in their first innings amid a flurry of cross-batted dismissals. Michael Clarke improved their position in the second bat with 136 after the side dropped to 128 for 5 in their impossible victory pursuit of 522.

"There are fundamental skill errors that we have made in this game," Ponting said. "I'm not just talking about the bowling. We didn't bat very well either in our first innings. Two hundred-odd on that wicket was a long way short of what we needed to get.

"The first two days was where the game was decided. I was pretty happy with the way we stuck at things for the remainder of the game. It's just little skill errors that have cost us big time." Australia play a three-day match against Northamptonshire on Friday before the third Test in Birmingham starts on July 30.

Despite being 1-0 down after two fixtures, Ponting is certain his men can re-group and believes both teams are evenly matched. Australia dominated much of the opening game in Cardiff, which now feels as far away as 2005, but England quickly built on their thrilling draw to take a strong advantage.

"It's grabbing the momentum when you can and running with it for as long as you can that's going to decide this series," Ponting said. "If you look at this game, they grabbed the momentum on day one, ran with it, and we found it hard to wrest it back.

"A lot of Test matches are won with what happens in the first hour's play. We were a fair bit off at the start of this game and we have to make sure we're a whole lot better when we start the third one."

Ponting spoke calmly after the match and managed to laugh at his treatment from the usually polite Lord's crowd. They jeered him throughout the contest, starting with his dispute of an incorrect caught-behind dismissal on the second day and continuing when he missed a run-out of Kevin Pietersen and a catch off Ravi Bopara in England's second innings.

"They seemed to take great pleasure in me dropping that," Ponting said. He counted 15 big-screen replays of the drop in two overs.

"I got my first clap as I got off the stage from my post-game interview on the ground," he said. "It took me cracking a joke to get a laugh out of them. I'm not sure what all the animosity was there." He promised not to lose any sleep over the response, which comes from his spirit of the game pronouncements, treatment of umpires and gritty on-field behaviour. He is also Australia's most talented and recognisable player.

Clarke sat next to his captain and said his century became "irrelevant" with the defeat. He wished the performance had come in the first innings instead, when he flicked James Anderson to midwicket on 1.

"Our goal is to win the game," Clarke said. "I thought we played pretty well last night but it's irrelevant now because we didn't get the result we were after. We knew we had a big job to do today, especially in the first session, but unfortunately we didn't get the result. I think we can still take some confidence out of the way we performed with the bat in the second innings."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo