Ashes 2013: Michael Clarke praises battling Australia

By Ben DirsBBC Sport at Old Trafford
Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke

Australia captain Michael Clarke lauded the character of his side after his magnificent innings of 187 put the tourists in control of the third Test.

The Aussies made 527-7 declared in their first innings with England 52-2 at stumps on day two at Old Trafford.

"We've copped a little bit of criticism after the first two Tests," said Clarke, whose side are 2-0 down.

"But the side has shown a lot of character and we should be extremely proud of the position we are in."

Clarke managed only 102 runs in the first two Tests but made amends with a magnificent, seven-hour knock in Manchester, his 24th Test century.

He was ably supported by Chris Rogers (84), Steve Smith (89), Brad Haddin (65 not out) and Mitchell Starc (66 not out) as the tourists kept alive their hopes of regaining the Ashes.

Clarke claimed in the build-up to the match that Australia could still win back the urn, and admits his team-mates must seize the initiative in the remaining three days.

"We worked exceptionally hard in the lead-up to this Test match and it was nice to get a result," said Clarke.

Swann congratulates Clarke

"But the wicket is pretty flat, there's not much movement and we'll have to work even harder over the next three days to win this Test match. But our bowlers have got the discipline.

"I was also really pleased with the way Nathan Lyon bowled - he got a little bit of spin but, more importantly, there was also some bounce there, so I think he's going to play a big part."

England spinner Graeme Swann, who took 5-159 in Australia's first innings, conceded the tourists were well placed but remained optimistic about his side's chances.

"They're in a good position but I don't know if they're in an ideal position to win a Test match because we've only lost two wickets in our first innings," said Swann.

"It's going to be very good pitch for five days. But if Mitchell Starc's foot holes dig up nicely it will make the off-spinner's life a bit easier to the right-handers.

"It will be a very good pitch for batting on Saturday, still good on day four and then on day five, when we bowl Australia out, it will be amazing for bowling."


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