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Pragmatic Saker retains optimism

David Saker sums up England's mood after a day that did not deliver what it had promised

England are disappointed with how day one of the Perth Test ultimately went but can come back into the game tomorrow, according to bowling coach David Saker.

Fighting to keep hold of the Ashes, the tourists reduced Australia to 143 for five as Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann struck twice after Michael Clarke won his third straight toss and chose to bat on a true and typically fast surface.

However, Steven Smith and Brad Haddin responded with a century alliance that brought the hosts back into proceedings in 40-degree heat. Although Ben Stokes snared Haddin for 60, Smith went on to three figures during an unbroken fifty partnership with Mitchell Johnson that realised a stumps score of 326 for six.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Saker admitted: “It’s a disappointing day.

“I think we got them in a position where we could have knocked them over for less than 200. But, to be fair, we probably didn’t bowl well enough to get them in that position.

Tim Bresnan, returning from injury, was part of a seam attack that bowled short too often today, according to David Saker

“They sort of handed us a couple of wickets. We fought quite hard in that little stint. After that we found it quite had to get in our groove and do what we do really well.”

Saker conceded that England’s seamers, who included Tim Bresnan on his international return from a stress fracture of the lower back, sent down too many short deliveries on the bouncy track.

“We pride ourselves on being able to bowl in a really good area for long periods of time and we definitely didn’t do that today,” he added.

“We mixed our lengths quite a lot and went to the short ball too often. At the WACA that’s a trap than can be fallen into. It was disappointing as far as the group goes.”

Saker, a 47-year-old Australian who played at the WACA in Tasmania and Victoria’s visits there, expects the wicket to remain reliable when England bat.

“It is pretty much what you expect at the WACA,” he said. “If you get in and play your shots, you get value for shots.

“You can play your shots because it’s quite true, but it’s a place where you can lose multiple wickets quite quickly because it’s hard to adapt when you fist go in.

“As a place, once you first go in, it’s a great place to bat. So hopefully when we knock them over tomorrow for 400, we can go out and make 400-plus.”

First England must take Australia’s last four wickets, with Smith and Johnson set to resume on 103 and 39 respectively.

“The group in there are quite down at the moment. I know they bounce back really well most times so I’m hoping that tomorrow morning we can come out with some determination to get those four wickets as quick as we can,” he added.

“We’re one day into a five-day cricket match. We’ve all played enough cricket and watched enough cricket to know there’s still a long way to go.”

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