Captains baffled over topsy-turvy Ashes

Michael Clarke has played 113 Tests, and only seven men have donned the whites more often for Australia.

Clarke has led the country in 45 Tests, with just five men captaining the national side more.

Needless to say, the 34-year-old has seen a lot in international cricket – good and bad – genuinely unbelievable and boringly ho-hum.

But the ongoing Ashes, a five-Test series that has already featured more swings than a boxer and more roundabouts than Canberra, has genuinely stumped Clarke.

“I can’t explain that – it’s a rollercoaster ride,” he said.

“We played some not so great cricket at Cardiff and Edgbaston and then, at Lord’s, we were outstanding.

“We have seen that from both teams. I don’t know the reason.”

England were dominant in the first and third Tests, while Australia were much the same in their 405-run win at Lord’s.

Alastair Cook described it as a compliment to both teams.

“When both sides got on top, they’ve been pretty ruthless at staying on top and not allowing the other side to come back,” Cook said.

Cook, a veteran of 117 Tests, is also baffled by the ebb and flow.

“I’ve seen a shift from one side to the other side taking the lead, but I haven’t seen it shift back and forward in three games like this,” he said.

“Hopefully, that can stop.”

History suggests it will.

Not since Don Bradman’s team in 1936-37 has a side fought back from 2-1 down to win an Ashes.

Clarke is confident his side is good enough to pull it off.

“We showed that at Lord’s,” he said.

“We can take confidence that we bounced back after Cardiff … we’ve got to have the same attitude now.

“We had to win the next Test match then and now we sit in the same position.”

Paceman Stuart Broad suggested not worrying too much about Australia would help England ensure the final chapter of the ding-dong battle was a dead rubber.

“Cooky has made it quite clear it is all about us this week,” Broad said.

“Looking back, we had a great week at Cardiff and, looking back, maybe in our minds was the thought that the Aussies would come back hard at us.

“We have to just focus on what we have to do.”

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