Australia may have erred in not enforcing the follow-on and allowing England back into the fluctuating second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval, David Saker, the bowling coach, accepted on Tuesday (December 5).
Steven Smith’s team dismissed England for 227 on Monday but decided against sending them back in to bat despite holding a 215-run first innings lead. England subsequently skittled the Australians for 138, leaving them with a chance of chasing down a record 354-run target in the final five sessions of play in Adelaide. At the close of the fourth day, England were 176 for 4 with Joe Root unconquered on 67 and Chris Woakes not out on five – 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand heading into the final day.
“Steven has obviously made the decision that he felt the guys had bowled enough,” said Saker. “In hindsight, we didn’t get an opportunity to bowl with the new ball under the lights – that was our chance. Maybe we got it wrong. At the end of the Test match we will review that.
“But if we come out of this winning the game, which I still think we will, you can say it was justified in some way.”
Smith did not consult his bowlers before deciding against enforcing the follow-on. “He is obviously frustrated at what has happened but I don’t think he is really ruing the decision,” said Saker.
Heightening Australia’s dark mood, they lost both of their reviews during England’s run chase on the third evening.
“We got it wrong today without a doubt,” said Saker of the use of the review system. “It’s frustrating to not have any in the bank coming into the last day, that is for sure. I think we’re still reasonably confident. Obviously the last two days haven’t quite gone according to plan.
“We still think we’re in front. Get a wicket in the morning and I think the game changes quite quickly.”