Ashes opener a kick up the bum: Clarke

Reeling from a kick up the backside in the Ashes opener, Australia must improve in four days if they’re to square the series at Lord’s.

Michael Clarke conceded his side were outplayed in every facet of the game at Cardiff, where England recorded a 169-run win inside four days.

Clarke was dismissed for four amid a collapse of 4-9 on Saturday, when Mitchell Johnson embarrassed his top order with a brisk and chanceless 77.

The second Test starts on Thursday.

Mitchell Starc is unlikely to feature in London due to an ankle injury he suffered on day one at Sophia Gardens.

Clarke was tightlipped about Starc’s chances of playing the second Test, but suggested the humbled tourists were relishing the chance to make amends so quickly.

“This gives us a bit of a kick up the backside,” Clarke said.

“The advantage and the positive for us is we’re only four days away from the second Test.

“That’s a good thing for this team.”

Clarke likened the resounding defeat to the loss suffered by Australia during the World Cup, when they had a woeful batting collapse of 8-26 against New Zealand.

“Any time you get outplayed it makes you see and understand where you have to get to, to beat your opposition,” he said.

“We knew they were going to … be tough to beat in these conditions and now we’ve just had a real taste of that.

“We have to play better.”

The tourists started the five-Test series as strong favourites, with pundits tipping them to win the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.

They must now reverse an 18-year trend to achieve that feat.

Australia haven’t won an Ashes series from behind since 1997, when Mark Taylor’s men dropped the first Test in Birmingham by nine wickets.

Joe Root was named man of the match, primarily for a sparkling 134 that helped England post a first-innings total of 430 and take control of the game.

Root was dropped on zero by Brad Haddin during that dig, but Clarke felt it would be wrong to single out one error when analysing the loss.

“Sometimes you pay for it and this time we paid for it,” he said.

“It’s not just about one catch.

“I don’t think we bowled as well as we needed to. If we hung onto our catches it could have been a different story and then we weren’t good enough with the bat.”

Clarke noted it was too early to make a call on Starc’s prospects of backing up.

“The concern is obviously how close the second Test match is away,” he said.

“The positive is that he was able to bowl in that second innings.”

Needing to chase down an Ashes record 412 in Cardiff, David Warner and Steve Smith guided the visitors to 1-97.

Warner was dismissed with the final ball before lunch and it unravelled spectacularly after the meal break.

Alastair Cook was keen to keep a lid on things after the one-sided contest.

“I am sure Australia will bounce back and put us under pressure,” Cook said.

AAP rf/ldj

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