Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Tim Paine gets best from his Australia bowlers again although DRS problems continue | Cricket | Sport

When the report card for the Ashes is put together Tim Paine will be lucky to get a single mark for his use of the Decision Review System.

‘Must do better’ does not begin to cover it with a lost review against Jos Buttler adding to a charge sheet on Thursday which now shows 14 challenges – 13 in the field and one batting – and not one won.

Add to that the effect of erroneous appeals which stopped him overturning incorrect decisions including one against Ben Stokes at Headingley and the damage mounts.

But while he may not have a big future in umpiring, Paine has been superb in managing his bowling stocks so far this series and yesterday the surprise inclusion of Mitch Marsh put another feather in his Baggy Green.

Marsh has not played for Australia since December when a sluggish performance against India proved his fitness was deemed to be not up the standard required. He was something of a surprise pick for the final Test given what is at stake.

Yet, after a summer running drinks, he returned to fully vindicate his skipper’s faith.

Despite cramping up a touch later on in the day when the effort of 16 overs bit, his 4-35 ripped out the middle of England’s batting order.

He was accurate, he utilised decent sharp in-swinging yorkers which picked off Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes, and found the edges of Ben Stokes and Sam Curran’s bat.

It was also notable that he returned from his boot camp and enforced absence nudging 90mph.

With two centuries and three half centuries to his name including 101 in the last match he played against England, Marsh may yet cause Joe Root’s men further damage.

But his intervention yesterday has added to a series of instinctive calls from Paine with his bowlers which have inched the Ashes Australia’s way throughout the summer.

It helps when you have bowlers of the calibre of Pat Cummins to call on.

But in the first Test, Paine opted for Peter Siddle which raised eyebrows only for his 44, in an 88-run partnership with Steve Smith, to rescue a terrible situation for his side lifting them from 122-8 to 210-9.

His 2-52 with the ball knocked over Root and Bairstow in England’s reply.

At Lord’s Paine opted to recall Hazlewood and was rewarded with a first innings 3-58 then at Headingley he rotated James Pattinson back into the line-up and was rewarded by his part in a 67 all out downfall in the first innings.

Old Trafford saw a first sign of Mitchell Starc, who gave him three wickets and a part in a match-winning first innings lead. A decision to throw the ball to leg spinner Marnus Labuschagne late on brought the crucial wicket of Jack Leach just when the nerves were beginning to fray. 

Despite talking a good game about how hungry the Australia side were, Thursday saw a sloppy display and Paine was as guilty as any, dropping Root on 25.

It was, so he insisted the day before, like a “grand final” for them yet had it not been for Marsh his side could have been out of the game at half time.

That they were not was down to the latest in a series of picks and gut calls which, while the numbers on the scoreboard have at times hinted might have been mistakes, have rarely proved to be blunders.

Buttler gave Paine cause to question his decision to bowl late on and his continued hit and miss with the DRS is not doing him any favours.

But when it comes to challenging his bowlers to perform, he has done rather well.

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