By Rob Barnett
Alastair Cook has challenged his England team to respond positively to their 381-run loss to Australia at Brisbane in the first Ashes Test.
The tourists suffered their second-largest Ashes defeat in Australia when they were dismissed for 179 late on the fourth day at the Gabba, with man of the match Mitchell Johnson taking 5-42.
Cook, who top-scored in England’s second innings with 65, and company have a tour game before the second Test at Adelaide starts on December 5.
That will give Cook’s squad time to regroup and the captain is taking heart from previous recoveries, such as a year ago in India when England lost the opening Test but won the series 2-1.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, he said: “We’ve got to go now and dust ourselves down, reflect on what’s happened here and just back our ability. There’s a lot of seriously good players in that changing room.
“We’ve obviously taken a hit today and these four days, but how we bounce back (is important) and we’ve done it in the past and we’ve got to go and draw on that courage now to go an do it.”
The tourists face a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Alice Springs on Friday and Saturday, which will give the batsmen in particular a chance to build confidence after England made just 315 runs at Brisbane.
“I think the 10-day break - sometimes it’s good to get right back on the horse straight away - but I think from this experience a 10-day break now between Test matches, we can really harden ourselves for the battle, go away and work on a few things and come back to Adelaide,” Cook added.
Cook believes the two first innings at the Gabba were decisive. Australia were 132 for six before fifties from Brad Haddin and Johnson lifted them to 295. England, in contrast, were 82 for two but slipped to 136 all out in the face of hostile fast bowling.
“I thought we bowled really well in that first innings and 300 was probably a par score on that wicket,” Cook reflected. “But we had an opportunity at 120 for five - and we couldn’t quite take it - to put some pressure on them.
“But obviously getting bowled out for 130 and only giving the bowlers 40 overs’ rest is pretty much where we lost that game.”
Centuries from David Warner and Michael Clarke dominated Australia's second-innings 401 for seven declared as the tourists were set an improbable 561 to win.
Yet Cook praised England’s attack - James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann - for their endeavour in the Brisbane humidity.
“I thought it was a real tough job in the second innings when they didn’t have much rest in this heat - it’s been very humid here - to ask them to bounce back and do that again was obviously a bit of a tough ask,” he said.
“But they kept running in and we know they’ve got the skills and we’re going to have to now regroup as a team, as a squad and come back firing in Adelaide.”