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Pained Clarke still believes

By Rob Barnett at Lord's

Michael Clarke is feeling the hurt of defeat, yet retains a belief that Australia can come from 2-0 down to regain the Ashes.

The touring captain was clearly affected by Australia's crushing, 347-run loss in the second Investec Test at Lord's.

He also appeared sincere when saying his side can win the next three Tests for what would surely be the most famous Ashes comeback.

Having first shared his belief in this at the post-match presentation ceremony, Clarke reiterated it the press conference that followed.

"I'm still confident we can win this series," he stated.

"I know a lot of the crowd laughed when I said that, and rightly so with the position we are in right now, but all of our top order have made a fifty and we need someone who can go on and make a big hundred - as England have done.

"We need to perform better to win this third Test but we have time to prepare."

Asked on the back of Australia's sixth straight Test defeat whether it hurts more to lose as captain, he responded: "I never like losing, that's for sure. Every team I have ever been part of that has just lost, it's extremely tough.

"But you probably take it more personally when you are captain of the team as well."

Clarke holds himself as among those responsible for the manner of Australia’s defeat.

His and Usman Khawaja’s fifties today were the tourists’ only during a game in which they were dismissed for 128 on first innings.

“I am as responsible, if not more accountable for my poor performance in the first innings with the way I got out,” admitted Clarke, who hopes to play in the upcoming tour game with Sussex.

“I felt I was hitting the ball well but my shot selection was extremely poor. I expect better of myself.

“This team needs me, when I get a start, to go on and make a big score. I have a lot of work to do over the next few days before the next Test match.  

Of the collective, he added: “Our performance with the bat was unacceptable. The wicket was very good for batting. We had a great opportunity but we let ourselves down.

“We have plenty of experience in our top seven and we have seen already on this tour that guys can score runs against this attack.

“But our shot selection was poor and we didn’t have the discipline that England had. They were willing to bat for long periods and graft through the tough periods, but we certainly weren’t in that first innings.”

Not forgetting the opposition, he continued: “I don’t want to take any credit away from England in both Test matches. But in tough times you have to find a way.

“There will be times when bowlers will work you over, but you have to find a way to get through that.”

One Antipodean journalist pointed out that the last Australia captain to lose six consecutive Tests, Kim Hughes in 1984, consequently resigned in tears.

Clarke’s response was “presume nothing”, which prompted brief laughter. Do not expect him to quit though, even if Australia are not ahead.

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