Alastair Cook hailed his relentless England side for wrapping up a four-day demolition job in Cardiff that left Australia defeated by 169 runs and demonstrated that his team have put memories of their whitewash defeat 18 months ago firmly behind them.
Stuart Broad claimed three for 39 and Moeen Ali three for 59 as Michael Clarke’s side collapsed to 242 all out in their pursuit of a fanciful 412 to win. Now 1-0 up in the series, captain Cook believes his players will come back with more of the same in Thursday’s second Test at Lord’s.
“It was really important for this group of players to show we can compete with Australia,” said Cook. “Everyone was talking about the previous series but it shows if we do the basics well we can put Australia under pressure. I don’t want to single out individuals. All five our bowlers were brilliant – just relentless on that wicket. You are only as good as your bowlers and our bowlers were brilliant.”
Cook’s often-criticised captaincy was praised at Cardiff, added: “It’s a start. It’s a long series: it would be nice if it was a one-match series! We are going to have to play well for a long period of time but I am fully confident the guys are up to it.”
Joe Root, the man of the match who survived a second-ball drop by Brad Haddin on the first day to register 134 and backed that up with 60 on Friday, rated the former innings as his most critical of his seven Test centuries to date. “I think it was my most important hundred in this match,” said Root. “It’s great to get that win, hopefully we can now back it up at Lord’s. When they attack, it’s the best time to attack them. There are more gaps in the field. And I’ve always had people at the other end to build a partnership with. Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes were important and shouldn’t be forgotten about.”
Broad got the ball rolling first thing on day four with the wicket of Chris Rogers, before gutting the Australian middle order with the removals Steve Smith and the captain, Michael Clarke, as the tourists lost four wickets for nine runs either side of lunch.
Broad said: “We’re really happy. It’s always hard work, especially on a wicket where you had to run in on and hit the pitch hard to get anything out of it. But a four-day win by 169 runs – it was a really good performance. There are a lot of proud players up there.”
“Cooky had a really good game as captain,” added Broad. “He put fielders in places in front of the bat that could apply some pressure.”
Clarke conceded his team were outplayed throughout and admitted a tough decision will need to be made over fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who took seven wickets in the Test but needed painkilling injections in his ankle to do so.
“We were outplayed in all three facets of the game,” said Clarke, “England’s batting in the first innings, their bowling throughout the game, and their catching was exceptional. We’ve got some work to do before the second Test. England deserve a lot of credit. We have got to be better, find a way to combat the way England bowling. They bowled really well, they swung the ball, and put it in an area to get the benefit of swing bowling.
“I don’t want us to change the way we play – we have to back ourselves. It was like losing to New Zealand in the group stages of the World Cup – that gave us a kick up and I see this game doing the same.”