Sydney: Captain Tim Paine bore the brunt of Australian frustrations on Monday at throwing away the third Ashes Test, with former skipper Ian Chappell saying he “lost his brain” in the final hour.
Justin Langer’s men were on the brink of retaining the Ashes at Headingley on Sunday, but Ben Stokes’s remarkable 135 not out saw England reach an unlikely victory target of 359 with one wicket left.
The incredible outcome, after England were all out for just 67 in their first innings, could have been very different.
West Indian umpire Joel Wilson turned down a massive lbw appeal against Stokes from Nathan Lyon as the game edged to a climax. Replays showed he should have been out, but Australia had no reviews left.
That’s because Paine used their last one on a dubious lbw shout against No. 11 Jack Leach, when the ball clearly pitched outside leg stump.
Chappell said Paine appeared to be flustered in the heat of the battle.
“When Leach got hit on the pad, clearly not out, by any stretch of the imagination, and the Australians reviewed it?” Chappell said on the website of broadcaster Channel Nine, which was covering the Test.
“That was the moment the situation got to them, and Tim Paine lost his brain. Everyone knows it’s way outside leg. Why would they go through with it (the review)?”
Another ex-Australian skipper Mark Taylor, now a pundit, was also bemused, saying Paine used his reviews “frivolously”, while former wicketkeeping great Ian Healy said he “burnt a review stupidly” and it cost Australia the match.
Broadcaster Fox Sports Australia also hit out at the captain, saying in a headline: “Tim Paine’s woeful Ashes series hits new low”, while Sydney’s Daily Telegraph bemoaned “dropped catches, errors in the field, umpire howlers and poor use of the DRS system”.
Paine admitted after the defeat that he had “got every review wrong so far” and said he planned to put someone else in charge of the decisions in future.
While sections of the Australian media turned on Paine, there was also widespread praise for Stokes’ incredible innings and the quality of cricket in what has been a riveting Test series.
“We can all die happy now - cricket doesn’t get any better than this,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald columnist Greg Baum, while The Australian’s Gideon Haigh added: “Nobody involved in this Test could feel anything other than honoured to have been part of it.”
The Melbourne Herald Sun said Stokes delivered England an “Ashes miracle”.
“Ben Stokes began his incredible, match-winning knock a modern-day Geoffrey Boycott, and ended it looking like Adam Gilchrist,” it said. “Few Test innings have, or will, match it for guts, glamour and glory.”