Deciding to bat again was wrong call, admits Saker
Nothing better summed up the change in fortunes in this Test match at the end of day four than an Australian voice admitting to mistakes.
For David Saker, the former England bowling coach who now works for their rivals, to admit that captain Steve Smith had been wrong not to enforce the follow-on before agreeing his team’s use of the decision review system was not good enough were victories of sorts for England.
Smith’s decision to bat again under the lights on day three opened the door for England and gifted James Anderson perfect bowling conditions that resulted in his first five-wicket haul in Australia.
Saker described having a new ball under the lights as a “luxury” for England and, after his time working with Anderson, he knows how skilful he can be if the conditions are at all helpful.
“They are very good in those conditions. They are like English conditions and they can exploit that. Our bowlers, given the opportunity in those conditions, could have done the same,” said Saker. “With hindsight it was [wrong not to enforce follow-on]. There are different reasons why you go back out and bat.
“One is to give your own bowlers a rest, but it is also to give the opposition bowlers another time to bowl because it is a long series and it helps to get big overs into them. We probably did not think it was going to move around as much as it did, that is for sure. Given those conditions, we could have done a similar job, but who knows?
“Steve is a very determined guy so he’ll think about things and make sure we’ll be right to play. He’s obviously frustrated about what’s happened but I don’t think he’s ruing the decision.”
Smith lost two reviews in three balls as he hunted England wickets after failing to call for one when Alastair Cook was lbw to Mitchell Starc early on.
Smith has had problems with DRS before and he ended the day as the butt of jokes from the Barmy Army, who were mocking him with the ‘T-sign’ for a review whenever there was an lbw appeal.
“We got a few wrong today without a doubt. We made some mistakes. We always talk about, pre-series, the processes of DRS and we got it wrong,” said Saker. “It is frustrating to not have any reviews left in the bag going into the last day.”