NOTTINGHAM, England, July 14 (Reuters) - Australia enjoyed a relaxed evening in Nottingham after losing a dramatic first Ashes test against England by 14 runs on Sunday.
The players gathered for an Asian meal in their city centre hotel following a narrow defeat in the opening match of the five-match series.
“I am as confident as I was when we landed here,” captain Michael Clarke told a news conference. “With the continued support of the fans, it will go a long way to helping us.”
New Australia coach Darren Lehmann attended the team meal along with former fast bowler Glenn McGrath who worked on the test as a commentator for BBC Radio.
Clarke was delighted with the performance of his team who went into the series as huge underdogs after a succession of problems on and off the field.
“The boys can hold their heads high. It was a wonderful game of cricket but credit to England, they fought well,” Clarke said.
Clarke paid tribute to England fast bowler James Anderson, who completed match figures of 10-158, and batsman Ian Bell who made a battling 109 in the second innings to lay a platform for victory.
“The two best performers in the match were Ian Bell and Jimmy Anderson and England deserved the win,” Clarke said.
“We get another crack in a few days’ time so we look forward to that.”
The second test starts at Lord’s on Thursday.
Clarke also praised 19-year-old spinner Ashton Agar who made an astonishing 98 batting at number 11 in the first innings.
”Ashton played really well and is an amazing talent,“ Clarke said. ”He is a great kid, has a smart mind and loves the game.
“He loves being around the Australian family and you will see a lot more of him.”
Clarke said Australia would have no problem recovering from the disappointment of losing the first test.
“We are naturally disappointed but the guys are full of energy and we will bounce back at Lord‘s,” Clarke said.
“The plan was for the guys to back themselves and play with intent,” he added. “They can hold their heads high.” (Editing by Sonia Oxley)