Graham Thorpe offered no excuses after England served up another dismal batting display but he is adamant they are capable of achieving “something special” to keep the Ashes series alive.
With Australia posting 179 all out on the opening day of the third Test, hopes were high on the second morning that England could move into the ascendancy, only for the hosts to respond with a pitiful 67 all out after 27.5 overs.
A number of batsmen were culpable in their downfall in a total that saw England fail to reach three figures for the third time in their last seven Tests, while it has happened on four occasions since the start of 2018.
Marnus Labuschagne continued to prove a competent replacement for Steve Smith, with a gutsy 53 not out his third successive half-century, as the tourists closed on 171 for six and a lead of 283 at a sun-kissed Headingley.
Thorpe said: “We’re disappointed with the way in which we batted. It’s tough to take in the dressing room when it happens.
“I’ll give credit to Australia’s bowlers, they bowled into very good areas as they’ve done throughout the series already. We know the challenge they present to us.
“There were a couple of good balls in our top six but there was also some poor shot selection. There’s no excuses. Our dressing room won’t make excuses on that and we simply have to get better, it’s as simple as that.
“Test cricket you can’t hide, Test cricket is the most mentally challenging which you’ll get presented.
“We had an opportunity to be able to get beyond Australia in our first-innings score and put some pressure back on to them. As it was we ended up again chasing the game.”
England, 1-0 down in the series, need to avoid defeat in Yorkshire to prevent Australia from retaining the urn and despite the dire position they find themselves in, Thorpe refused to write off England’s hopes in the fourth innings.
He said: “There’s no point us getting out of bed in the morning if we don’t think we can do something special.
“The guys we’ve selected, we believe are good enough to do the job. And I still believe they are. You only have to look at some of the stats to know they can do better as a group, and that’s a challenge for them.
“First of all we’ve got to try to get those four wickets and if we can keep them to 320 or 330, a few of our lads can put their hand up and do something special. I always believe that is capable.
“But we have to try to find generally a bit more consistency with our play going forward in Test cricket.”
Joe Root followed up his golden duck in the second innings at Lord’s last week with a second-ball nought on Friday, the first time in his career he has gone scoreless in back-to-back Test innings.
His average as captain has dipped to 40.41, which contrasts with a mark of 52.8 before he took the reins from Sir Alastair Cook two years ago.
Thorpe added of the England skipper: “I see him with bags of energy. He comes in does his work, does his practice. He’s worked on his movements from Lord’s to here, he felt confident but he got a very good ball.
“As the Test match goes on, naturally the pressure can get put back on to the captain. He’s got to get back out there, the team’s been bowled out for 67, he’s got to get back out there and captain the team.
“Naturally that is going to take something out of you as well, so it’s up to us to support him.”
England’s batting coach also allayed any fears over Jofra Archer, who came back on to the field shortly before stumps having limped off with cramp in his left thigh in the final session.
Thorpe added: “We’d like to have given him a bit more of a break, 30 overs is not quite enough. He came off with cramp and he seems alright.”