By Chris Devine at Emirates Old Trafford
Tim Bresnan retained a positive outlook after Australia enjoyed their best day of the Investec Ashes Series thus far at Emirates Old Trafford.
After winning the toss and gaining the opportunity to make first use of a true surface, the tourists reached 303 for three on the back of Chris Rogers’ attacking 84, a brilliant 125 not out from skipper Michael Clarke and Steven Smith’s unbeaten 70.
Clarke and Smith shared an unbroken partnership of 174 - a record for the fourth wicket in Ashes Tests at this venue - to ensure Australia ended the opening day of the third Test firmly on top.
Yet Bresnan refused to be too downhearted and pointed to England’s persistence with the ball as a positive.
“It’s always difficult when the sun’s out and the pitch is quite good for batting but I thought we stuck to our task well,” Bresnan told ecb.co.uk.
“We challenged the defence of the Australians, which is what we try and do. They rode their luck well. That’s just how it is sometimes.
“We could come back tomorrow and they’ll nick the ones they played and missed at today.
“That’s just how sport goes and especially cricket. We worked really hard today without much luck. Hopefully the hard work we put in we’ll get our rewards (for) tomorrow.”
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Bresnan recognised the worthy efforts of an Australian batting unit under severe pressure following their poor showings in defeats at Trent Bridge and Lord’s.
“I’m sure we’d be in a similar position if we’d won the toss and batted ... but whatever you do first, you’ve got to do well, and Australia have played well today," he added.
“We were expecting a fight. I think every time you play against Australia you expect them to fight back.
“Their backs were against the wall, so why wouldn’t they push even harder back. It’s up to us now to counteract that tomorrow.”
Although Clarke and Smith ultimately shared the day’s most significant partnership, Rogers was the man who set the tone for Australia with a fluent innings featuring 14 fours.
The left-hander fell short of a maiden Test hundred but was able to reflect on a hugely encouraging day.
“We won the toss, which was good for us, for the first time and we made the most of it,” said Rogers.
“I wanted to show people that I can play an innings like that. I’m not just a guy who will try and eat up time. I felt a lot better today and had a positive mindset and fortunately it worked.”
Asked if he felt as though he was playing for his career, Rogers replied: “In some respects, yeah. My performances haven’t been anything to write home about so I knew that if I had a bad Test I guess I’d be under a lot of pressure.
“I’m not naive enough to think if I don’t score runs I’ll still be in the side.”
The performance of Clarke drew fulsome praise from Rogers.
“He’s such a key person in our batting side. If he scores runs it makes it easier on everyone else around him,” said the opener.
“We need him scoring runs as a lot of the other guys are probably still learning their game in many respects. So for him to get big runs is massive for us.”