Manchester, United Kingdom: Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, refused to get excited by the excellence of his team's performance over the first two days of the third Ashes Test. He also refused to answer a question asking whether or not he would enforce the follow-on, should the opportunity present itself. "Let's just get our third wicket first," he laughed.
Though Australia ended the second day with England 475 runs behind and with only eight wickets remaining in their first innings, he acknowledged that this would be rendered "irrelevant," were Australia not to win the Test match.
Clarke felt similarly about his brilliant innings of 187, also revealing he wasn't particularly impressed with how he batted. "I didn't feel that great yesterday or today," he explained. "I felt there was probably enough in the wicket - I played and missed a hell of a lot and had a fair bit of luck."
Australia's success was, he felt, down to winning the toss and a flat wicket, his team finally managing to avoid losing "clumps of wickets at a time".
And Clarke was especially happy with how his bowlers performed, praising their collective discipline, and the bounce extracted from the pitch by Nathan Lyon. "I don't think it's the type of wicket you can force too hard," he said. "You've got to build up pressure, the bowling's going to have to be exceptionally consistent, like they were this afternoon, and it's the type of wicket that's going to take a lot of time to bowl England out."
He also shed some light on how Australia's batsmen decide whether or not to review an umpiring decision. After David Warner edged a Graeme Swann delivery to Jonathan Trott, Clarke, who was batting at the other end, approached Warner. "We had a little discussion in the middle - let's just say we disagreed," he said. But Clarke remained satisfied with his team's method. "I think that's the way DRS should be used," he said. "If the batsman feels he didn't hit the ball, then his partner should back his judgment."
However, he would not have challenged the decision of Marais Erasmus, the umpire, later in the day, had Tim Bresnan been adjudged not out, following a ball from Peter Siddle which flicked his thigh and was caught by Brad Haddin. "You appeal because you think it's out, but there was probably enough doubt there not to review it. But fortunately, we got one which went our way, which is very nice."
Meanwhile, England's spinner Graeme Swann was typically chipper, despite a chastening two days for his team. Though he conceded that Australia were "in a good position", he did not feel that they were "in an ideal position to win a Test Match", because "we've only lost two wickets in our first innings".
He went on to explain that there is no one he'd rather have walking out to bat in England's current circumstance than Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, also pointing out that Cook is due a big score. "The way to win this game is to go past the Australian total and get a bit of a lead, and then see what happens on days 4 and 5," he said. "I intend to put my feet up and hopefully sleep for six hours." And in the meantime, he was anticipating second innings use of Mitchell Starc's footholes, which are likely to create rough for his off-spin.
Swann also revealed that Bresnan did not send upstairs the decision that gave him out because he heard a noise. Accordingly, he assumed that he'd hit the ball, refuting the suggestion that the decision was taken because he was acting as nightwatchman.
And as far as Warner's review was concerned, Swann admitted that waiting for the decision had been faintly amusing. "We all knew he'd hit it and I think everyone knew he'd hit it, apart from David," he explained, broad grin on his face. He also related that during Warner's brief innings, there was no discussion in the middle of the punch he threw at Joe Root in a bar earlier in the summer.