Questions were raised about if Australia batted too long before declaring on day three but Australian captain Pat Cummins backed the decision despite the Test ending in a draw.
Coming into the last day of the Test match Australia needed 10 wickets for victory. They took three wickets in the opening session and started the final session requiring six wickets in the last session in a game that would go right down to the final minute of the final hour.
However, Australia would fall one wicket short with James Anderson and Stuart Broad seeing out the final overs, ending the match in a thrilling draw, ending hopes of an Ashes whitewash.
After the match, Cummins came under criticism for the timing of Australia’s declaration. Cummins said the wet weather throughout the game had a big part in the match but believes they had enough overs to bowl England out.
“First of all, I think the weather played a bit of a part in this game and basically just loathe that I can’t predict it at all,” Cummins said post-match.
“I wanted around about three and a half [runs] an over, I thought the wicket was still not playing too many tricks. I thought if they [England] batted really well 350 [was] pretty achievable out there so I wanted to give us enough time.
“I thought 110 overs was enough time but having the luxury after Greeny [Cameron Green] and Usman [Khawaja] batted to have enough runs in the bank that we could effectively attack for those whole 110 overs.”
Cummins said Australia was willing to risk losing to chase victory.
“I don’t think we needed to hand it to them on a platter but for sure we were willing to risk England winning,” he said.
“I thought around three and a half runs per over was similar, I think the game was ticking along around that rate. I thought 110 or so overs at that rate, [it] still gave them [England] a cherry if a couple of batters got in,”
Victory looked likely when Cummins removed Jos Buttler and Mark Wood. It looked more likely when Scott Boland took the important wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
Due to the dark and gloomy skies in Sydney near the end of the match, Cummins was unable to hand the ball to his fast bowlers instead requiring the spinners to bowl them to victory. Cummins said the decision was disappointing but agreed it was the right call.
“I would’ve liked to bowl Scott [Boland] but it was probably the right decision to be fair it was pretty dark out there,” he said.
“Disappointed [I] couldn’t use Scotty [Boland], even Greeny [Cameron Green] I think I told Greeny to warm up about five times but just it’s probably the luxury of having five bowlers, you can only bowl two at a time.
“It is what it is, it was pretty dark I think they made the right call.”
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It was the third time in two years, second time at the Sydney Cricket Ground that Australia was unable to bowl the opposition out.
The 28-year-old honestly thought he gave themselves enough overs and time to bowl England out, but knew it was going to be tough.
“I think that the day five wicket [here] doesn’t play like a traditional broken up day five wicket. We were hoping for 110+ overs [and] we thought that’d be enough but in the back of our mind, we knew it may potentially be a bit of a grind out there,”
Despite the inability to take all 10 wickets again, Cummins said the side made improvements from last year’s performance against India.
“I think this year compared to last year, we made some improvements, we probably stuck at some [of our] plans a little bit longer,” he said.
“When your that far ahead in the game of course you want to win it but I thought England played well. I was really proud of how everyone went [and the] plans we had, we stuck at it.
“I think we bowled quite well just got close just not close enough.”
In his third match as captain, Cummins said he was able to make a few calls, some of which came off while others didn’t.
“I’d say firstly it was a lot of fun, having a lot of runs on the board meant we could get pretty creative and [it] always felt like we’re searching for wickets appose to save a match,” Cummins said.
“The hardest thing to do is try and choose amongst our five bowlers that we have plus Smithy [Steve Smith] and Marnus [Labuschagne].”
Selectors have plenty to think about as the Australian team makes their way to Hobart for the Fifth and final Test.
With Travis Head likely to return and Usman Khawaja making twin hundreds, earning him the player of the match. Cummins said the selectors have something to think about.
“I proficient by saying I’m not a selector but I mean someone comes out and hits twin hundreds it’s pretty hard to go past them for the week after,” he said,
“We’ll work through that, the selectors will work through that over the next few days but [if] someone’s running hot [and] got a heap of experience like Uzzie, the way he played was just fantastic.”
Jhye Richardson also looks to be fit for the Test in Hobart. Cummins said he doesn’t know how the bowling attack will look but it will depend on how sore they pull up.
“It’s a good problem to have, Michael Neser played in the last pink ball game as well. We’ll take our time, we’ll see how all the bowlers pull up,” Cummins said.
“Scotty [Scott Boland] was a bit sore so it’s too early to talk about those kinds of things until we get down there [and] have a look at the wicket and see how everyone pulls up.”
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