Australia assistant coach unhappy with extra half hour

It was a long, frustrating night for Australia in the field © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Australia’s assistant coach, David Saker, has questioned the wisdom of an extra half hour being taken on the fourth evening at the Gabba as Australia sought in vain to wrap up victory over Pakistan.

The final session was already extended to make up for earlier rain, and Australia had claimed only two wickets in the two-and-a-half-hour session when the extra half hour was granted. They still needed three wickets to win.

The extra time meant the session ballooned to three hours and nine minutes, and Australia managed only one more wicket during that period, while Pakistan added 51 runs and went to stumps only 108 runs short of their monumental target of 490.

The ICC’s playing conditions state that “the umpires may decide to play 30 minutes (a minimum of eight overs) extra time at the end of any day (other than the last day) if requested by either captain if, in the umpires’ opinion, it would bring about a definite result on that day. If the umpires do not believe a result can be achieved, no extra time shall be allowed.”

The wording of the rule suggests that Australia’s captain, Steven Smith, would have to have requested the extra half hour from the umpires, but Saker believed Australia might have been better off ending the day’s play on time and coming back fresh on the fifth afternoon.

“Actually I don’t know what happened,” Saker said. “It was a bit frustrating from where we were sitting. We were quite happy to come off, as a support staff, because I thought we’d done quite a bit of work and we’d probably rather our fast bowlers put their feet up. We weren’t sure what was going on.

“I know the umpires and Steve were talking out there. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Steve about what happened. Obviously they’ve just given them the half hour extra, which is allowable. I suppose with an “in” batter in, that probably wasn’t the right decision. But a lot of people wanted the game to finish today, and the umpires are probably one of those.”

Pakistan’s No. 6 Asad Shafiq was well set on 77 when the extra time was taken, while No. 9 Wahab Riaz had already faced 31 deliveries. Shafiq went on to raise his century and Wahab struck a pair of sixes before he fell in the final over of the day when he edged Jackson Bird to Smith at slip.

Smith was pleased to pouch the chance after earlier missing two opportunities at slip during the evening session. He gave Sarfraz Ahmed a life on 19 off Josh Hazlewood’s bowling, and then missed another straightforward chance when Shafiq was on 72 and edged Mitchell Starc.

“He’s obviously a very good slips fielder and he has dropped two catches that he’d usually catch,” Saker said. “It was a bit frustrating in the dressing room as well. I think he wouldn’t have wanted to have been in our rooms with Darren [Lehmann] and I going off.

“But that’s the way it is, and that’s cricket. He’s usually a very safe pair of hands and then he ended up taking a pretty good one at the end, which is a pretty important wicket in the context of the game.”

Although Australia remain favourites and Pakistan would need to complete the highest successful run chase in Test history in order to win, they at least gave themselves a slight chance by their fighting work with the bat in the second innings. By stumps they had 8 for 382 in pursuit of 490, and already had the highest fourth-innings total in Gabba Test history.

“Right towards the end of the day when they were hitting some boundaries quite at will,” Saker replied when asked when he began to think Pakistan had a chance of winning. “The game hasn’t really gone like that throughout. It sort of came into our mind. You think you’re just one wicket away from breaking that. We’re still in a very strong position. It has been a pretty heroic run chase so far from them.”

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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