LONDON: Australia captain Michael Clarke said his side still had room for improvement after their utterly dominant 405-run win in the second Ashes Test against England at Lord’s on Sunday.
They needed just 37 overs to bowl England out for a meagre 103 on Sunday’s fourth day, paceman Mitchell Johnson leading the way with three cheap wickets, having set their arch-rivals a mammoth victory target of 509 runs.
Clarke’s men produced a near-ideal display to level the five-match series at 1-1 after their 169-run loss, also inside four days, in the first Test in Cardiff.
Australia never looked back at Lord’s after piling up 566 for eight declared in a first innings that featured Test-best scores from both Steven Smith (215) and Chris Rogers (173).
“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,” said Clarke.
“That’s why I think Chris Rogers and Steve Smith deserve a lot of credit.
“Obviously when we got a crack with the ball the boys executed really well and we continued that in the second innings.”
However, Clarke added: “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,” said Clarke ahead of next week’s three-day tour game which will provide Australia’s lead-in to the third Test at Edgbaston starting on July 29.
– Rogers worry –
The only significant concern for Australia at Lord’s was when veteran opener Rogers retired hurt early on Sunday morning after a dizzy spell.
That led to fears the 37-year-old left-hander may have been a victim of delayed concussion after being struck on the helmet by England paceman James Anderson on Friday’s second day.
Rogers, who plans to retire after the Ashes, missed Australia’s recent 2-0 series win in the Caribbean, having been struck on the helmet while batting in the nets.
He did not field on the fourth day at Lord’s but was seen talking to team-mates on the Australian dressing room balcony.
Clarke, however, was upbeat about Rogers’s prospects of playing in the third Test.
“I don’t know enough about it at this stage,” Clarke 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.”
There have been suggestions that England have prepared deliberately slow pitches to counter the threat of Johnson — who took 37 wickets during Australia’s 5-0 whitewashing of England during the 2013/14 Ashes.
But if such a plan had indeed been hatched, it backfired spectacularly at Lord’s.
Anderson, England’s all-time leading most successful Test bowler, failed to take a wicket for the first time in 59 matches.
And with the likes of Johnson, fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood consistently quicker through their air than their England counterparts of Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood, a docile surface is likely to harm Australia less than their old foes.
“It’s an error to play Australia on these surfaces because if Mitchell Johnson is not getting much out of it, then Broad and Anderson won’t,” former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.
“But he’ll always get more out of it than most (as he) bowls 92 miles (148km) an hour.”
England captain Alastair Cook added: “We want to play on ‘English’ wickets, and that (Lord’s pitch) probably wasn’t too ‘English’.
“But that’s nowhere near an excuse. We’ve been totally outplayed in four days,” he said.