By Rob Barnett
Australia captain Michael Clarke hailed “a very special win” following his side’s fightback in the Melbourne Test that led to an eight-wicket triumph.
Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry’s opening stand of 65 yesterday put England 116 runs ahead with 10 wickets in hand.
However, Nathan Lyon’s five scalps helped to set a victory target of 231, which Chris Rogers’ century and Shane Watson’s unbeaten fifty saw comfortably overhauled.
Although the hosts were put under pressure in the first three Ashes Tests, that did not come so far into the match as at the MCG.
Clarke therefore said: "I think it's a very special win for a number of reasons, obviously the fact that a lot of people thought we’d come here complacent and not have the same willpower to continue to play the way we played in the first three Test matches.
"Also for the first time in this series, we found ourselves behind in the game – and over the last couple of days we've been able to turn that around and win convincingly. I think the boys deserve a lot of credit."
Australia’s lacklustre first-innings 204 led to criticism, which they responded to in a style.
Clarke admitted they would have struggled to do so earlier in the year, given they had not won a Test in 2013 prior to this rubber.
“If you happen to read the media throughout this Test match, that was a very similar indication as to how this team’s been over the last 12 months,” he added.
“After winning the toss and bowling, and in our first innings batting the way we did, I think we experienced some irked criticism for our poor batting performance.
“And then the way the bowlers turned it round in the second dig and were able to knock England over 170 and then the way we batted today, you seen the real positive side of this team.
“I think the way this team’s fared over the last 12 months – we’ve had our ups and downs – but there’s no doubt the winning feeling is back in our camp, and I think it has been since the one-day series in England.
“I said over there that, although it was a different form of the game, the boys in that group certainly had that winning feeling back amongst us after having success in that series.”
Clarke highlighted Rogers’ contribution to this win, although man-of-the-match honours went to Mitchell Johnson for his eight wickets.
Rogers followed his first-innings 61 with 116 to see Australia to the brink of victory.
“I think it was a fantastic innings, a match-winning innings, and he deserves a lot of credit for it; there’s no doubt about it,” said Clarke, before quashing suggestions Rogers’ place in the team was under threat.
“The way he played in the first innings was special as well. I think some people thrive on that expectation and that extra pressure, and he certainly seems like one of those players.
“I think as captain of the team I certainly haven’t felt Chris is under pressure for his spot. I think he’s been batting really well.
“I think he’s been doing his job at the top of the innings for us and plays a huge role in our middle order being able to play the way we play because he sets it up.”