Jamie Cox, the on-duty selector at The Oval, has taken responsibility for Australia not playing Nathan Hauritz on a dry and dusty pitch that gave significant assistance to spinners. The captain and coach, Ricky Ponting and Tim Nielsen, have already conceded Hauritz should have played but Cox said it was ultimately his call that led to a four-man pace attack being chosen.
"The raw emotion of the past few days has dissipated," Cox told the Australian after arriving home to Adelaide. "People for some reason think that we really don't care about the fact that we lost - that it's all okay for us and we just move onto the next one. If the team loses then we are scrutinised and deservedly so.
"The only way we can get selections right is if the team wins. We all understand that. We're not shying away from the fact that we made an error at the end. Of course we should have played a spinner. Ultimately it's my call. That's why you don't feel all that good about it when it turns out badly."
Cox said he realised half an hour into the Test that he had misjudged the surface, which turned out to be slow and brought eight wickets for England's offspinner Graeme Swann. Instead of choosing Hauritz, Australia selected Stuart Clark as a fourth fast man but he had almost no impact, although Australia's lacklustre first-innings batting was the real turning point. It led to a hefty deficit from which Australia could not recover, and their 197-run defeat meant a 2-1 series win for England.
The Oval was not the only venue at which Cox had a major decision to make. He said the axing of the promising but out-of-form Phillip Hughes at Edgbaston was a particularly hard call.
"The decision to leave out Phil Hughes was the toughest thing I've had to do as a selector," Cox said. "But [Shane] Watson gave us real presence at the top of the order. Yeah, we made a mistake at the end and no one's walking away from that. Our Ashes, up until that one very well-defined moment, went very well for us."