Opener Michael Carberry is adamant England did not underestimate the Australia bowling unit after the tourists were blown away on a dismal second day in Brisbane.
Mitchell Johnson led the onslaught with a hostile spell of fast bowling which resulted in figures of four for 61 as England were bundled out for 136 in reply to Australia’s 295 in the first Ashes Test. Australia then closed on 65 without loss – a lead of 224, leaving England to sift through the wreckage of another fragile batting display.
Alastair Cook’s men have failed to break 200 in the first innings of the first Test on each of their last five tours but Carberry insists they were not caught unawares by Johnson and Co.
He said: “I wouldn’t say (we’re) shell-shocked. We’re pros, and when things don’t go to plan there’s a slight feeling of disappointment. But we’re a confident bunch in our abilities, and we know we can bounce back from disappointing days. They’re a good bowling unit. They’re not to be taken lightly, and we certainly haven’t. We have to focus on getting back in the game.”
Carberry, on just his second Test appearance, top-scored for England with a composed 40 before the collapse – the tourists slipped from 82 for two to 91 for eight in an awful afternoon session – took hold. He was eventually bounced out by Johnson, but added: “I didn’t come here expecting the Aussies to be shaking my hand. The Australian bowlers came hard at us, but it’s where you want to be as a cricketer. Mitchell Johnson is a world-class performer – definitely in terms of pace, he’s up there with some of the quickest I’ve faced. That’s tough for anyone. But we knew what he was going to bring.”
Carberry has gleaned enough from the time he has spent in the England squad over the past three weeks to know they have the mettle to recover – whether it be in this match, or the remainder of the series.
“We weren’t up to it today, but I’m confident we can prove ourselves,” he added. “Any batsman, whether it’s in first-class cricket or Test cricket, the first couple of balls are the toughest phase of an innings. If there are some good balls flying around, unfortunately sometimes – if it’s not your day – your name’s on it. But you don’t become bad players overnight. It was just a bad session, which can happen to any team.”
Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin marked his 50th Test with his 100th victim behind the stumps, to add to the 94 runs he made to rescue the hosts’ first innings from 132 for six at one stage on day one.
Johnson helped him put on a century stand for the seventh wicket. Then after the left-armer upped the ante with the ball, Haddin said: “You always like to have a guy with Mitch’s pace in your team. Any guy who can push the radar up near 150kph, no matter how well you’re playing, can make it uncomfortable for the opposition.”
Nevertheless, Haddin was surprised at how many England wickets fell in so short a time, but added: “The Gabba’s one of those grounds where things can happen quite quickly, with the extra bounce. Sometimes, when you do get on a roll here, it’s hard to stop.”