Justin Langer and Tim Paine conceded that poor use of the DRS had returned to haunt Australia in the nerve-shredding final moments of the Headingley Test, which left the tourists without a review to call upon for a final lbw decision by the umpire Joel Wilson on Ben Stokes that would have been overturned on review.
England still needed two runs for victory when Nathan Lyon beat Stokes on the sweep and appealed fervently for lbw, only to have Wilson rule it not out. Stokes later said he could not believe ball-tracking had showed the delivery to be hitting the stumps squarely enough to overturn the not-out decision, but for Langer, the sequence underlined one of the areas his team needed improvement in.
Two earlier wasted reviews, one for a Lyon lbw appeal on the third evening and then another for Pat Cummins against the last man Jack Leach with England still needing five runs to win, had meant there were none available at the critical moment. Plenty of criticism has been directed Wilson's way for not giving Stokes out, but Langer reasoned that Australia could have put themselves into a position where recourse was available with better judgment.
"We've been really poor at it this whole series," Langer said. "We talked a lot about getting better at our reviews. There wasn't so many this game as there were at Lord's, but certainly we have control of that. We have your way we go about it, but sometimes you don't quite get it right. To be fair, the one off Pat Cummins, it was getting pretty desperate at the end there and that often happens. That's just how it works out.
"The umpire should make the decision he thinks is right regardless of reviews in my opinion. If they think it's out they should give it, if they don't they should give it not out. The review system is as it is and sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don't."
Paine, who quipped that he might consider handing over reviewing duties to someone else, said that he had not watched a replay of the final lbw call, nor would he. "No. I saw it live," he said. "That's all I needed to see. I don't want to watch that again."
Nevertheless, he declined to criticise Wilson, who had faced severe criticism for a string of overturned decisions during the first Test of the series at Edgbaston, served as third umpire at Lord's and then returned to the middle for Headingley, where he had actually officiated far better across the game up until the concluding moments. There had been room for doubt, too, in the lbw appeal, given how full the ball had pitched, leaving Wilson with little chance to judge how much Lyon's quicker delivery was turning.
"I have no issue with that, we can't control that," Paine said. "I don't think I've got a referral correct the whole series so I can't sit here and bag the umpires and again we have got to focus on what we can control and umpiring decisions isn't one of them.
"I'm sure it is something that will be written about but we also had other opportunities to win the game and opportunities on other days with our batting and we didn't take them, so to sit down and single out an umpire is unnecessary. He is no different to everyone else - he is allowed to make mistakes."