Bowlers struggled in Birmingham: Clarke

Australia’s pacemen exceeded expectations with the bat in the third Ashes Test, but failed to have the same impact with the ball.

The tail added 97 runs on day three at Edgbaston, giving themselves something to bowl at by setting England a target of 121.

Realistically, the touring bowlers never had enough runs to play with in either innings.

But Michael Clarke felt they could have performed a lot better.

“We had perfect bowling conditions. Overcast, a little bit of rain around and we just couldn’t hit the areas consistently,” Clarke lamented.

“The ball swung and seamed for the whole game.

“We had to be better than what we were.”

Mitchell Johnson started day two with a sensational over, removing Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes with searing bouncers.

Johnson was lively throughout the contest, while Mitchell Starc dismissed Alastair Cook on Friday giving his side hope of an unthinkable victory.

Australia’s quicks failed to match the control and consistency of Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn, who bagged six-wicket hauls in the first and second digs respectively.

It was in sharp contrast to a polished display at Lord’s, where Johnson, Starc and Josh Hazlewood were able to let rip with a first-innings total of 566 on the board.

“I don’t think we executed as well as we did at Lord’s, certainly in the first innings,” Clarke said.

“It is a tough one because you see both sides, you see the way we bowled here and Cardiff wasn’t good enough.

“You see the way we bowled at Lord’s and that was as good as any attack you will see in world cricket.”

Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle are waiting in the wings and selectors may be tempted to tweak the attack for the fourth Test, which starts in Nottingham on Thursday.

Hazlewood struggled to keep the runs down in Birmingham, but he is the leading wicket-taker of the series with 14 scalps.

Starc scored 58 on Friday.

He faced 108 balls in that knock, more than any other Australian batsman in either innings save for Peter Nevill’s 59.

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