Alastair Cook insists England must believe they can still win the Ashes series, despite going 2-0 behind with a 218-run loss at Adelaide.
Australia needed less than an hour on day five to claim the tourists’ last four wickets and now head to Perth for the second of back-to-back Tests, starting on Friday, knowing victory there will regain the urn.
However, England, whose second-innings 312 today is their best score of the rubber, can still take the series 3-2 or share it 2-2, in which case they would retain the Ashes.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk immediately after the post-match presentations, Cook said: “If we don’t believe, no one else is going to believe.
“Yes we’ve taken a big hit and it’s going to hurt but we have to get into those nets, work as hard as we can on our games and come out in a couple of days’ time in Perth.”
Defeat in Adelaide came a fortnight after a 381-run setback at Brisbane but winning on the fast WACA wicket would alter the complexion of the series.
“The next game is always the biggest challenge. We know we’ve had two big hits here. We can’t hide away from that. But things can change very quickly, but it’s down to us to change them,” added Cook, who scored just four runs at Adelaide.
“We know that WACA is very different to conditions here and one of the things we’ve got to make sure we work on is our shot selection, making sure we get them right and execute them well. It’s all well and good making the right shots. We’ve got to execute the shots well.
“We’re going to look at ourselves. That’s the only thing we can do. We’ve got to work as hard as we can. I’ve got to score some more runs. That’s part of the responsibility of the batters; we all have to. And it’s going to be another challenge but the guys are ready for that.”
Cook admitted the England dressing room is a difficult place to be at present, yet knows the players must front up in the rest of the rubber.
“Obviously it’s tough times at the moment. When you lose the first two games of a series, it is a tough place in the dressing room,” he said.
“But this is why sport is a challenge. It can throw up some challenges. We’ve had some really good times as a side and now we’re having a bit of a tough time.
“As I said over there, the only guys who can change it are the guys sitting in our dressing room. And that’s what we’ve got to do and we’ve got to work as hard as we can on our games over the next couple of days, dust ourselves off and come back firing in Perth.”
Cook was encouraged by fighting fifties from Joe Root, who was promoted from six to three in place of Jonathan Trott, yesterday and Matt Prior, whose half-century today was his first in 17 Test innings.
“Rooty, he’s obviously been up and down the order, had a few different changes, but the way he’s handled himself in that situation I think has been fantastic,” Cook added.
“He’ll bat anywhere for us and adapts his game. And I thought the temperament he showed, the technique he showed in the second innings shows what a good player he is.
“And obviously Matty hasn’t had a great run with the bat and, just that little bit of time in the middle, we know he’s a class player.
“Little things like that we can draw on, but it is (a case of) dusting ourselves off and looking within ourselves to come and produce a better performance.”
Meanwhile, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance have flown to Perth ahead of the rest of the squad in order to play for the England Performance Programme versus a Western Australia Second XI from tomorrow.