ADELAIDE (Reuters) - Australia had little choice but to regret their decision not to force England to bat again after the tourists took the second Ashes test into a fifth day, bowling coach David Saker conceded on Tuesday.
Australian captain Smith could have enforced the follow-on when England made 227 in reply to Australia’s 442-8 declared on Monday but decided to send his openers out to face England’s attack in the night session.
A resurgent England bowling unit make early inroads under the Adelaide lights and finished the job in the sunshine on Tuesday, dismissing the Australians for 138.
Only South Africa captain Dudley Nourse against Australia in 1950 had previously lost a test after failing to enforce the follow-on but Smith could join him with England 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand.
“In hindsight it probably is (a regret),” Saker told reporters.
“There’s probably different reasons why you’d go out and have a bat. One, is to give your bowlers a rest but it’s also to give the opposition bowlers another go because it’s a five-game series and it can have an impact if you get some overs in them.
“We probably didn’t think it was going to move around like it did. It was tough but Jimmy (Anderson) was magnificent.”
Anderson took 5-43 in Australia’s second innings after getting the pink ball moving and England captain Joe Root marshalled the run chase with 67 not out.
Saker, who spent five years as England bowling coach, said Australia were still in a strong position to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“I’m confident tomorrow morning, if it’s a nice day, our bowlers can still get the job done,” he said.
“I’d back them to get the job done more often than not in those conditions.”
Australia will have to do it without any DRS referrals, however, after Smith used up both the unsuccessful reviews each team is allowed in each innings on Tuesday.
“We got it wrong today without a doubt,” Saker added. “It’s frustrating not to have any in the bank going into the last day.”
Saker said Smith would not be dwelling on the failed referrals nor the decision not to enforce the follow-on.
“He’s a very determined guy so he’ll think about things tonight and make sure when we turn up we’ll be right to play,” he said.
“He’s obviously frustrated about with what’s happened but I don’t think he’s ruing the decision. I think he’ll be positive tomorrow and the whole dressing-room will be positive we’re in a better position than they are.”
Editing by Ed Osmond