The Unforgivable Error That Cost Australia The Test Match
It wasn't a dropped catch or a missed run out. It was worse than that.
But before we talk about the horror moment that cost Australia the third Ashes Test at Leeds, let's be generous and admit that the Poms won it due to an unstoppable force of nature called Ben Stokes.
What the England all-rounder did was unthinkable. Just for starters, he:
- Made 135 not out off 219 balls, an impeccably crafted and paced innings in which -- get this -- he scored just three runs off his first 73 balls.
- Scored 74 runs of the 76 run final wicket partnership between him and Jack Leach, accelerating and farming the strike like a god, and;
- Struck eight sixes, the most ever by a batsman in a successful fourth-innings chase.
But forget Stokes for a moment. Australia was complicit in its own defeat in numerous ways.
Early in the day, our bowlers bowled poorly with the second new ball. This set a tone. Afterwards, there were several missed chances, as well as moments of bad execution and/or decision making.
But no moment was worse than the wasted DRS review by skipper Tim Paine which prevented a certain victory for Australia. This unforgivable brain fade came on the last ball of the 124th over, with England 9/351 and just nine runs from victory.
Pat Cummins sent a ball angled in to England's plucky number 11 batsman Jack Leach. It hit him on the pads, but clearly pitched well outside leg stump -- and according to cricket's laws, you can't be out LBW if that happens.
Paine reviewed it anyway. It was, of course, denied.
And that meant Australia had exhausted its quota of reviews. From that point on, it would be the ump's decision only. No more referrals.
Exactly one over later, the lack of a review came to bite them. Nathan Lyon trapped Stokes absolutely plumb in front. The ball pitched on leg stump and was straightening to hit middle and leg, about three-quarters of the way up.
Out. Just outy outy outy out. Out to the naked eye, and out to the technology.
Bu umpire Joel Wilson -- who in the first Test of this series officially got more decisions wrong than any umpire in the DRS era -- inexplicably shook his head and kept his finger down.
And because Australia had wasted its review, there was no court of higher appeal. And four balls later the match was over.
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There are other moments you could pick to say "this is where Australia blew it". Just one ball earlier, Nathan Lyon missed an easy run out which would have ended things. A bit earlier, Marcus Harris grassed a catch.
But players make physical errors in pressure situations.
What most Aussie fans are finding it hard to cop this morning are the errors of judgement shown by our captain Tim Paine -- for his wasted review -- and umpire Joel Wilson, for yet another officiating howler.