Justin Langer urges Australia to review their ‘poor’ use of DRS
Australia coach Justin Langer wants to see an improvement in the way they use the decision review system after Ben Stokes was given a lifeline en route to helping England level the Ashes.
Stokes anchored an England record fourth-innings chase of 359 with one wicket to spare as the all-rounder produced a breathtaking 135 not out at a sun-drenched Headingley to square the series at 1-1.
He was given a major let-off with two runs still required when Nathan Lyon struck his pad but, when umpire Joel Wilson kept his finger down, Australia were left counting the cost of burning their last remaining review in the previous over bowled by Pat Cummins when ball-tracking showed all three reds.
A deflated Langer lamented Australia’s use of DRS in recent weeks though he was reticent to criticise Wilson for his blunder following a breathtaking climax to the third Test.
The former Australia opener said: “We’ve been really poor at it this whole series. We’ve talked a lot about getting better at our reviews. Certainly we have control of that.
“We’ve got a way we go about it but sometimes you don’t quite get it right. The one off Pat Cummins was getting pretty desperate at the end and that often happens. That’s just how it works out.
“It’s 1-1 in the series and we’ve been so close – one more wicket and we’re 2-0 up and feeling pretty good about ourselves but that’s sport and we’ll pick ourselves up.
“We’re all feeling it. My gosh, you’ve got no idea how much that hurts losing, you have no idea. But whether you’re the captain, coach or a senior player, you’ve got to get up.”
Steve Smith is on course to make his return to Australia’s ranks for their tour match against Derbyshire later this week following a concussion that sidelined the talismanic batsman at Headingley.
Should he come through unscathed then he is certain to feature in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, which gets under way on September 4, having contributed 144, 142 and 92 in his three previous innings.
His replacement Marnus Labuschagne has contributed three successive half-centuries in Smith’s stead though the rest of Australia’s top six flattered to deceive in their last outing.
Langer said: “We can’t fit them all in, that’s one issue we’ve got.
“One thing I do know is that we’re not batting well enough at the moment. I said at the start of the series that the team who bats best will win the Ashes.
“We’ve got some real questions to ask for the practice game and for the fourth Test match.
“We’ve got to also work out after a long summer, we’re going to have to rest some players, just to give them a mental freshen-up more than anything.”
Usman Khawaja is under the microscope with a top score of 40 in six innings in this series though Langer was quick to defend a senior batsman who averages 40.66 in Tests.
Langer added: “Uzzy’s played a lot of cricket and averages over 40 in Test match cricket, he got a Test hundred seven innings ago, so we know he’s a very good player.
“He, like the rest of them, will be working hard to be ready for the fourth Test.”