The Ashes

Maybe we got it wrong: David Saker admits Australia made a mistake not enforcing follow-on

Skipper Steve Smith’s team dismissed England for 227 but decided against sending them back in to bat despite holding a 215-run first innings lead.

Australia may have erred in not enforcing the follow-on and allowing England back into the game in the fluctuating second Ashes Test, team bowling coach David Saker acknowledged on Tuesday.

Skipper Steve 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.

The tourists subsequently skittled out the Australians for 138, leaving them with a chance of chasing down a record 354-run victory target in the final five sessions of play in Adelaide.

At the close of the fourth day, England were 176 for four with Joe Root unconquered on 67 and nightwatchman Chris Woakes not out on five – 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand heading into Wednesday’s final day.

“Steven has obviously made the decision that he felt the guys had bowled enough,” Saker told reporters.

“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,” Saker said.

Heightening Australia’s dark mood, they lost both of their reviews during England’s run chase and will not have the option of appealing on-field decisions to the TV umpire on the final day.

“We got it wrong today without a doubt,” Saker said 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.”

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