Saker did not shy away from saying that the Australians had erred in burning their two available reviews in the space of three balls in the England chase, leaving the visitors with a small be perceptible advantage on the final day in pursuit of 354 to win. Equally he said the decision not to send England in again on the third evening meant that the Australian bowlers were denied the chance to use a new ball when batting conditions were most difficult, also allowing Joe Root's side to regroup impressively.
"I'm not sure of the conversations out in the middle, there were messages going to and from the dressing room about the possibility, Steven made the decision that he thought the bowlers had bowled enough and that'll do," Saker said of the follow-on. "In hindsight we didn't get a chance to bowl with the new ball under lights and that was our chance, maybe we got it wrong, at the end of the Test match we'll review that.
"In this game we haven't had the luxury of having a new ball late in days, where England have. They are very good in those conditions, it's pretty much like English conditions, they're skilful as any bowlers in the world so they can exploit that. But our bowlers given the opportunity in those conditions I think they'd do the same, but I'm confident tomorrow morning if it's a nice day, our bowlers can still get the job done, and I'd back them more times than not.
"There's different reasons why you'd go back out and have a bat, and one is to give your own bowlers a rest, but it's also to give the opposition bowlers another time to go out there and bowl because it's a five-game series and that can sometimes affect them if they get some big overs into them, but they bowled particularly well. We probably didn't think it was going to move around like it did, that's for sure, it was tough, but Jimmy was magnificent and Woakesy was very good."
While noting that variable bounce in the pitch had made it a difficult match for umpires as well as players in determining the outcomes of lbw appeals in particular, Saker said that Australia had not adjusted well to the new ICC regulations that deny teams two fresh reviews after 80 overs in exchange for the retention of any failed reviews where lbw decisions are deemed to stay as the umpire's call.
"Umpiring's a hard job and especially on wickets that have variable bounce and this wicket seems to have bounce from a length quite a lot, so there's some of those decisions that have been quite tough," Saker said. "The DRS, I think we've got a few wrong today without a doubt, we've made some mistakes there and we've learned from them but we always talk about it pre-series, of process for the DRS and I think we got it wrong today without a doubt. It's frustrating not to have any in the bank that's for sure."
He also said that Smith was trying his best not to let the events of the past two days distract him from the task of claiming six more England wickets on the final day. "He's a very determined guy so he'll think about things tonight, he'll make sure that when we turn up we're right to play," Saker said of Smith. "He's obviously frustrated with what's happened but I don't think he's really ruing the decision, once it's made I hope he doesn't think about that too much.
"He hasn't talked about that in the rooms, he's just talking about how we're going to produce these six wickets we've got to get. I think he'll be positive tomorrow and the whole dressing room will be positive that we're in a better position than they are."
Nevertheless, Saker admitted to frustration at seeing Smith's team mocked by the Barmy Army with massed review signals as several appeals were denied in the night's closing overs - as a former England bowling coach he has been on both sides of the Ashes argument.
"I was on the other side for five years so I did enjoy the Barmy Army for five years, but today it was wearing a bit thin to me," Saker said. "It's Ashes series and one of the beauties of Ashes series is the Barmy Army and the way they go about it. It's enjoyable to listen to at times, but being in the Australian camp now, it's not as enjoyable as when I was in the English camp."