'We go hard right to the end' - Starc
A nonchalant Mitchell Starc has said Australia's imminent Ashes humiliation is "not ideal" but "only a game of cricket", brushing off talk about the implications of the team's second surrender to England in as many weeks.
Starc claimed his best Test figures of 6 for 111 in England's first innings and will be batting on the third morning when the tourists resume, still 90 runs short of making the hosts bat again with only three wickets in hand. Despite the dire nature of the situation, Starc did not concede the Ashes were gone, as Shane Watson did in similar circumstances at the MCG in December 2010.
He was also seemingly unaware of the mass of invective being poured on the team back in Australia, where newspaper front pages were emblazoned with images of their day one dismissal for 60. They have also been the butt of jokes from Federal politicians, with talk of citizenship being revoked for playing so poorly. All this was news to Starc.
"It was less than ideal yesterday but it is what it is," he said. "It's a tough day and you've got to move on. It's just a game of cricket, they're important days but you've got to move on. Learn from yesterday and the week before. We'll do that tomorrow, wake up, go hard and go right to the end.
"We're not going anywhere, we'll wake up in the morning and go again. There's a lot of work to do to find any way to draw this game or win this game, but we'll fight right to the end, right to the last wicket, last run, it's just in our nature. A tough couple of days but we're not going anywhere."
Starc did concede that Australia's players had repeated their mistakes far too often, from batting in a manner not becoming of English conditions to bowling too impatiently in pursuit of wickets and thereby leaking runs. However he did not believe England were a better side by the sorts of margins that have opened up, simply insisting that Australia had failed to play at their best.
"I guess we can be guilty of that," Starc said of repeated errors. "We're into the fourth Test and we're making a few of those mistakes too often, whether it be with bat or ball. So we're going to have to push hard now for the rest of the week, and we've still got another Test after that to come out and play as well as we can.
"Stuart [Broad] was on the money early yesterday and it's tough to come back from 60 all out. We fought hard with the ball last night, probably too attacking, and then we bowled well this morning on what's still a good wicket with a little bit in it. England's execution has been a lot better in all facets of the game than we have.
"I think we haven't seen that [playing at our best] from us. We saw it at Lord's, which was up there with as good a performance as we can do. Since then execution hasn't been there and England's been up to the challenge. They've played good cricket and haven't let the momentum come back to us. We definitely haven't played anywhere near our best cricket since Lord's."
Starc would not comment about the way Australia's batsmen had played, saying that as a No. 9 he was not qualified to do so. He did confirm that Australia's players had only been informed of the team selection immediately before first morning warm-ups, though did not consider this overly unusual. As for the prospect of reviews into the team's performance, Starc did not worry himself.
"Luckily enough I don't have to select teams and worry about that sort of thing," Starc said. "We'll get through this Test, fight to the end. Try to improve and try to take something out of the series, depending on how these next couple of days go."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig