England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four
England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

Dropping the Ashes? The errors that cost Australia

Ben Stokes played an innings that will go down in Test folklore, one that arguably might never be bettered given the context of the game, and the series, in which it happened.

But Australia had chances to end it, not only with a missed catch and a run-out, but questionable field settings and some pretty poor bowling.

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Aussie captain Tim Paine conceded he could have, and should have been better, but explained how one of the maddest afternoons ever in Test cricket went down.

 

THE FIELDING:

The Australians seemed rattled, with bobbling balls jumping in and out of hands as the run-chase reached crisis point.

Marcus Harris made his ground and got hands under a top edge from Ben Stokes ...
Marcus Harris made his ground and got hands under a top edge from Ben Stokes ...


Marcus Harris, fielding at third man, dropped a top-edge off Stokes with 17 runs still to get. The England star also nudged twos when he should have been limited to ones, as he played with the fielders in two minds about just what to do.

"I wouldn't say we were rattled. No doubt there was pressure, that's Test cricket, and it was close, tight, the crowd was loud, that was as hard as it gets for a touring side," Paine said.

"Sometimes people make mistakes and we made a couple today. In the end it cost us the Test match.

 

... but was unable to hold on, instead handing the English star batsman a life.
... but was unable to hold on, instead handing the English star batsman a life.


"It comes down to taking your opportunities. Today, we missed a few and a guy played out of his skin to take a Test match away. That can happen, that's OK.

"Hopefully we'll be in those positions again and next time we take those chances - but mistakes happen."

THE MISSED RUN OUT:

Paine had to pick up Nathan Lyon off the ground after Ben Stokes smashed the winning four. The over before, with just two runs needed to win, Lyon, who was bowling, fumbled a throw from Pat Cummins after Stokes deflected the ball to him at short third-man, with England number 11 Jack Leach stranded in the middle of the pitch.

 

Nathan Lyon missed a straightforward stumping that would have ended the contest in Australia’s favour.
Nathan Lyon missed a straightforward stumping that would have ended the contest in Australia’s favour.

All Lyon had to do was take the ball, and smash the stumps, and Australia would have retained the Ashes.

"Gazza (Lyon) is obviously extremely disappointed, but no one's perfect, people make mistakes and that happens. The important thing is that when it happens you cop it on the chin, you hold your head up and you stick together as a team and you walk off together," Paine said.

"He's a really important player in our side and I said to him that if our players see him dealing with it really quickly and moving on then our younger players are going to do the same thing and we turn up to Manchester or our next training session in a much better frame of mind rather than have guys sulking or whatever you want to call it. It hurts, deal with it, move on.

 

Stokes and Jack Leach went on to punish the mistake and seal a famous and improbable victory.
Stokes and Jack Leach went on to punish the mistake and seal a famous and improbable victory.

 

Stokes said he and Leach "could have had a conversation" they were so close, but that pressure did funny things.

"That was huge panic stations there because he was so far out. Obviously in that pressure situations in games cam really affect what a human does. Nine times out of ten Nathan Lyon would pick that ball up and take the stumps off."

THE LBW:

Nathan Lyon had Ben Stokes out LBW the ball before the missed run out chance. The appeal was huge, every Aussie thought he was out. But umpire Joel Wilson didn't.

Australia had burned its last review the previous over, for an LBW that was never out. Paine explained that review was a "dabble".

He also said he wouldn't look at the replay of the Lyon ball, which confirmed Stokes was out. But he knew his reviewing had to be better.

"I saw it live. That's all I needed to see. I don't want to watch that again," he said.

Nathan Lyon was sure he had Stokes trapped lbw, but with no reviews left Australia couldn’t challenge the umpire’s call which proved to be incorrect.
Nathan Lyon was sure he had Stokes trapped lbw, but with no reviews left Australia couldn’t challenge the umpire’s call which proved to be incorrect.

 

"I don't think I've got a referral correct the whole series so I can't sit here and bag the umpires and again we have got to focus on what we can control and umpiring decisions isn't one of them. I'm sure it is something that will be written about but we also had other opportunities to win the game … so to sit down and single out an umpire is unnecessary, he is no different to everyone else - he is allowed to make mistakes."

Stokes didn't agree he was out, but knew Australia would have won if they had the review.

 

The Australian team new another clear chance to win the Ashes had cruelly alluded them.
The Australian team new another clear chance to win the Ashes had cruelly alluded them.

"If they had one they would have used it and ended up winning. I still cannot believe it was three reds. I thought, as soon as it hit me, that it was sliding down leg because there was no spin," he said.

MEN ON THE BOUNDARY:

Basically from the moment Jack Leach joined Ben Stokes, with 73 needed to win, Paine sent all bar one slip fielder to the boundary. It only encouraged Stokes to keep swinging, and he didn't take any of the singles on offer.

 

Tim paine’s defensive field settings encouraged Stokes to plunder runs at breakneck speed late on.
Tim paine’s defensive field settings encouraged Stokes to plunder runs at breakneck speed late on.

But it was also evidence of a lack of not only intent from Paine to get him out, but any ideas how to either.

"If we didn't it probably would have finished a lot earlier, the way he was hitting them, to be honest. It's one of those things. It is a really difficult period of time to captain. I don't think anyone has done it perfectly. I certainly didn't.

"I don't claim to have. But when guy is going like that, you bring the field up he's hitting them for four or six anyway.

"Ben Stokes was playing out of his skin. He managed to do things that you normally wouldn't and you've got to give him credit.

"I didn't love today but I love watching him play for that reason. He puts you under pressure, and he takes the game on. He looks like he plays the game the way you'd like to play and it takes a huge amount of courage to play like he did today."

Stokes said he thought boundaries was the best way to win.

"I wasn't quite sure whether to keep on going like I was or to try to win it in ones and twos. But I got us to that point from playing in a certain way so I just kept on going.

"But I had to make sure I picked the right ball and made sure I committed to what I did."

THE BAD BOWLING:

As Stokes kept swinging the Australian bowlers, all of them, seemed to have no answer.

Josh Hazlewood got hit for back-to-back sixes in one over, Pat Cummins got slapped over the fence too.

Stokes smashed his final 74 runs from just 42 balls, and Paine said if he had his time over again, he would have made sure he talked to his bowlers more.

"What I probably would like to have done is more talk to the bowlers about their mindset. At times when the field gets spread they go a bit defensive.

"I still want our bowlers to be running in thinking about getting them out regardless of the field. But again, that's Test cricket."



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