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England skipper: Defeat to Aussies was a ‘kick in the teeth'

England's captain Alastair Cook, (right) chats with former captain Michael Vaughan, (left) after the match during day four of the Second Investec Ashes Test at Lord's
PA Reporter

ALASTAIR Cook found England’s 405-run Lord’s defeat against Australia “incredibly frustrating”.

The England captain is at a loss to explain why his team have been unable so far this year to consolidate a series lead – previously against West Indies and New Zealand.

After those drawn series, so it proved in this second Ashes Test too as they were bowled out for just 103 on day four to lose with more than four sessions to spare.

As in their whitewash defeat in Australia in 2013-14, England had no answer to the pace of Mitchell Johnson – leaving Cook to admit they need to work hard to address their frailties before the third match of five at Edgbaston.

Cook’s first-innings 96 was no consolation after Australia had set up the game on the back of Steve Smith’s maiden double-century and 173 from Chris Rogers.

Johnson then emphatically settled the issue, to level the series score following England’s opening win in Cardiff last week.

Cook said: “Full credit to Australia – from the first morning, they got on top of us and never let us back in the game. Today was the icing on the cake for them, and for us a real kick in the teeth.

“To get bowled out on that kind of wicket for a hundred is not good enough, not acceptable, not up to the standard that the guys can play.”

He is in a quandary over why England appear unable to play more consistently.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” he added.

“I said before the game the last (two) times we’ve gone one up in the series, we haven’t managed to play anywhere near that standard we’ve set in the following game.

“For whatever reason, I cannot put my finger on it.

“We’ve spoken about it. We had an opportunity here to build on Cardiff... and we haven’t taken it.

“I think it’s probably a case of you can talk all you want - but it’s down to the players.

“The next time we get the opportunity, just do it. It’s not about talking – it’s about playing.”

One obvious concern is England’s unwelcome habit of losing early wickets.

“Certainly over the last three or four months, we’ve found ourselves too often 30 for four (or) 40 for three,” added Cook.

“That’s not ideal in any circumstance, in any team.

“Big runs from the top order, you saw how Australia did it and how it sets up the game.

“It’s something we’ll have to look at over the next couple of days.”

Their attempt at an unlikely salvage mission in the second innings was a woeful one, on a pitch showing few signs of obvious deterioration.

“If you’re going to bat 150 overs to save a game, you do have to change your method,” said Cook.

“I believe that anyway. You’ve seen plenty examples of that recently (in world cricket) that have been fantastic.

“It’s definitely possible. But you do have to change your game to adapt to it... (and) we weren’t good enough to do that today.”

Johnson might have preferred quicker conditions, but still took three big second-innings wickets for 27 – including that of Cook, who said: “He bowled pretty well.

“But as a batter, you have to have your plans for each individual bowler – so that’s something we’ll look at in the next couple of days.”

Australia captain Michael Clarke was delighted with his team’s response, after their setback in Wales.

“Mitch is a great weapon to have in your team... (but) I think the whole attack deserves credit, because the way they bowl allows me to use him as I did in this game,” he said.

“We just didn’t play good cricket in Cardiff, and were outplayed.

“But credit to the boys, to be able to turn that around and come out and play some fantastic cricket (here).

“They were switched on, and I sensed that hunger. We’re going to need that if we’re going to have success in the rest of this series.”

Australia expect to have an update on Rogers’ well-being today, after he was forced to retire ill with a dizzy spell in their second innings.

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