By Matthew Sherry at the Emirates Durham ICG
Michael Clarke conceded Australia were undone by an “exceptional performance” from Stuart Broad in the fourth Investec Ashes Test.
The tourists looked in good shape to keep alive their hopes of a series draw having reached 147 for one, chasing 299 at the Emirates Durham ICG.
However, Broad had other ideas and claimed six of nine wickets in the evening session, helping England to a stunning 74-run victory.
His 6-50 completed match figures of 11-121 and left Australia with plenty to ponder ahead of next week’s fifth and final encounter at the Kia Oval and the reverse series that begins in November.
“I have got to pay credit for Stuart Broad,” said Clarke. “His performance in this match was exceptional.
“When any good bowler gets their tail up and momentum, they’re generally hard to stop and unfortunately we could not stop him in either innings.”
The triumph means England have now won three successive Ashes series for the first time since 1981.
While Clarke has been on the losing side in all of those, today was his first time experiencing the disappointment as captain.
He added: “It’s extremely disappointing – I guess I know now what it feels like to lose an Ashes series as a captain.”
The skipper was under no illusions about what let Australia down in the north east and throughout the series.
“I want out batters to get more runs.” he conceded.” I’d like our batting to be stronger. Our bowlers are doing a fantastic job – I don’t think we are making enough runs it’s as simple as that
“We are sometimes getting close (to winning) and not getting over the line. It doesn’t put more pressure on me though – I need to score more runs.
“I am part of the batting unit; I am not different to any other batter in that order and my job is first and foremost to score runs and I only made 25 in this Test and that’s unacceptable.”
While the final encounter is effectively a dead-rubber, it carries huge significance for Australia as they aim to build momentum ahead of the sides renewing battle Down Under.
That is something Clarke acknowledges and, despite his side’s current position, he is confident their squad is capable of turning things around in a few months’ time.
He said: “I certainly feel like there are a lot of positives that come out of this tour – it is hard to see when you are 3-0 down but personally I can see some positives – from individual players and I know that will stand us in good stead when we get back to Australia.
“But we have to continue to fight and work hard and have some success on the rest of this tour.
“The fifth Test is as important as the first four have been; we have to play some good cricket and I think we have shown in patches that we can do that
“We have got the potential and the talent; if we play that brand of cricket we have shown glimpses of I am confident we can beat any team in the world.”