Jonathan Trott admitted England’s batsmen had only themselves to blame for their poor first-innings performance that left Australia on top at the end of the first day.
England closed on 238 for 9 after winning the toss but only one player, their captain Alastair Cook, passed 50 on a day when the tourists’ bowling attack always had control over their opponents.
Nathan Lyon took 4 for 42 on a pitch that was not particularly conducive to spin, and Trott accepted that England’s display, particularly against Lyon, had not been good enough. The off-spinner removed Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell before returning to trap Jonny Bairstow lbw. Trott was caught at short leg and said: “If you look at Lyon’s figures, you’d say we didn’t play him particularly well.
“My dismissal started it. I was disappointed to get out in a soft way because the ball wasn’t turning much. We’ve had success against spin in the past and the guys will be really keen to put it right in the second innings.
“When you get out, it’s rarely because of an unplayable delivery. The fault is usually with the batsman and we could probably all say that today. It’s uncharacteristic of the side. We usually put emphasis and value on our wicket and when that doesn’t happen, we’re disappointed.
“It was good pressure from the opposition and you play a shot to a ball you shouldn’t. There are a few disappointed guys in the changing room. I think 250 is an average score here, but it would be the easy route to say ‘we’re at par’. We probably didn’t have the best of days towards the end.”
Whatever happens here and in the final Investec Test at The Oval, England will still hold the Ashes at the end of the series after winning the first two matches, before the drawn third Test at Old Trafford. Yet Australia’s performance in Manchester – and their work on the opening day here – will give their captain, Michael Clarke, and his players some confidence that they can level the series and begin the five-Test series in Australia, which starts in November, with momentum on their side.
Lyon said: “It’s about building pressure, which we managed to do. That’s the way you take wickets because if you build pressure and don’t allow them to score many runs, hopefully an error will come somewhere along the line.”
Lyon held his nerve well against Pietersen, who made clear his intention to attack from the beginning, and earned his reward when the batsman played for the turn and was caught behind.
Lyon added: “Those are the challenges I love. I wasn’t surprised when he came down the pitch to his first ball, because that’s who he is, the type of cricketer he is. He’s one of the best in the world and he likes to take the bowlers on, so I expected it.”
Despite his dejection, Trott drew consolation from the first Test at Trent Bridge, which England won despite making only 215 in their first innings. “We won a fantastic Test match there and, hopefully, we can do the same here,” he added.