Clarke's tribute to Rogers and Smith
Australia's captain Michael Clarke believes the hardy union of Chris Rogers and Steven Smith on the first day of the Lord's Test was the performance that decided the match, and may also prove to be the pivotal five or so hours of the Investec Ashes series.
England were razed for a measly 103 on the fourth afternoon of the match after Clarke had set them 509 to win, and Mitchell Johnson's fiery spell in particular was the talk of Lord's. But Clarke cast his mind back to a nervy Australian dressing room on the first morning and the way Rogers and Smith stopped England's momentum from Cardiff, after David Warner's dismissal had opened up one end.
"I think the game was set up by the way we batted in the first innings, by the way we stopped England's momentum from the first Test," Clarke said. "That's why I think Chris Rogers and Steve Smith deserve a lot of credit for that. Then we grabbed momentum by making as many runs as we did and obviously when we got a crack with the ball the boys executed really well and we continued that in the second innings.
"To be able to take 20 wickets is a great reflection of where this attack's at. The depth of our squad was certainly shown this Test and credit to Mitch Marsh and Nev [Peter Nevill] for coming in and grabbing their opportunities with both hands.
"I think the other thing is to obviously be extremely happy with the way we performed but also respect that we've only played two Test matches in a five-Test series. I still see areas where we can get better, a few of us would definitely like to score some more runs, I'd like to see no dropped catches. So we turn up to training in Derby in a couple of days and we try and get better."
Clarke said he had felt bullish about his team's chances in the Lord's Test from the moment a post-match meeting in Cardiff had outlined how the tourists had under-performed and perhaps underestimated England in the opening match. There was a sense of focus to the team's training in London that was unaffected even by the family reasons that prevented Brad Haddin from playing, or the major decision to drop Shane Watson.
As it happened, Nevill and Marsh each contributed strongly. Nevill's seven catches gave him the best debut by a wicketkeeper in Ashes history, while a spiky 45 with the bat suggested he has the ability to make plenty of runs in Tests. Marsh showed verve in a pair of brief innings, but most importantly claimed the wickets of Ben Stokes, Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance to provide a Bothamesque thorn in England's side.
"Probably before we left the change room in Cardiff, I think it was discussed where we didn't perform well and the positives were also spoken about," Clarke said. "It was important that we took the positives from Cardiff. There wasn't very many but we took those with us. And then again I always look at training. I can tell before a ball is bowled in the game how I think we're going to go and the boys were switched on.
"I sensed that hunger, from the senior players in particular. They lead that and the younger players they've got that enthusiasm and hunger anyway because they want to get out there and play. But I sensed that hunger for success from the senior players and we're going to need that if we want to continue to have success in this series.
"I said after the first Test that I sensed that was a little bit like losing to New Zealand in the World Cup. It shows you the standard of cricket you have to play at to beat your opposition and during the World Cup that was the kick up the backside we needed and I'm hoping that Cardiff was the same for this series. I think we know we have to be at our best to beat England in these conditions."
Clarke reckoned he had enjoyed a better game as captain than he had in Cardiff also, using Johnson in shorter and more incisive bursts while balancing the resources provided by Mitchell Starc, Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Marsh. But he also acknowledged that his own batting returns were lacking, and indicated his preference to play in the three-day tour match in Derby that begins on Thursday.
He also said he expected Rogers to be fit again in time for the third Test of the series at Edgbaston. "I don't know enough about it at this stage," he said. "But it sounds to me that today's incident is no relation to him getting hit in the West Indies or even the other day. We'll wait and see the result and let the experts have a look at him and make their decision. But I'm confident Chris will be right for the next Test match."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig