A bullish Graeme Swann is confident England can still secure a first-innings lead and victory in the third Investec Ashes Test.
Peter Siddle’s late double strike on the second evening left England 52 for two in reply to Australia’s imposing total of 527 for seven declared.
Much work lies ahead, therefore, if the hosts are to get ahead of their opponents, but Swann was typically optimistic when speaking to ecb.co.uk at the close.
“All credit to Australia; they put 500 on the board and we’ve just got to go past them and bowl them out now,” said the off-spinner.
“The way we look at it is to go past them and bowl them out, not to look at getting near them or whatever. We back our batting line-up on that pitch to score big.”
Swann completed a 17th five-wicket haul in Tests today, having returned match figures of 9-122 in the 347-run victory at Lord’s that put England 2-0 up in the five-game series.
“It’s been fairly dry this year so the ball has turned a bit more than normal in England and it’s been good fun,” he added.
“At Old Trafford you never know. It’s got the reputation of being a bit of a turning pitch; when the ball’s hard it does tend to grip more, but it was tough work. When the ball goes soft it’s still a very good batting pitch.
A team has every right to bat well on a pitch like that. Day two is nearly always the best time to bat on any Test match pitch. We had to keep plugging away.”
In his post-match press conference, Swann expressed further confidence in England’s batting line-up.
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott will resume on 36 and two tomorrow, with nightwatchman Tim Bresnan having become Siddle’s second victim after Joe Root.
“The fact that Cookie is still there is great for us because he’s due a big score,” said Swann.
“Trotty is a world-class player as well and we’ve got Kev and Belly and Jonny Bairstow and the rest to come. We’re very happy with our line-up.”
Swann also paid tribute to Australia skipper Michael Clarke, who struck 187, adding: “As their one standout superstar batsman he was probably due a score and he delivered for Australia on this occasion, so you’ve got to pay full credit to him. It was a magnificent knock.”
After repeatedly stating his belief that Australia can come back from 2-0 down in the build-up to this game, Clarke was understandably positive when addressing the media.
“The team should be extremely proud of the position we are in at the moment,” said Clarke.
“We’ve copped a little bit of criticism after not making enough runs in the first two matches and rightly so. The way everybody did their job in the first innings is a credit to all the boys. It shows a lot of character.”
Despite his team’s improved showing, Clarke is aware that Australia must continue to perform strongly if they are to gain victory in Manchester.
“I sit here pleased with the first two days but it’s irrelevant if we don’t win this Test match,” he added.
“We are going to have to work exceptionally hard, even harder than we have over the first two days, over the next three.
“It’s not the type of wicket where you can force too hard. The bowlers are going to have to be exceptionally consistent, like they were this evening.”