Australia captain Tim Paine denied his side had let the verbal warfare go too far as England laid the foundations for an Ashes-levelling victory in the final Test.
England batted throughout day three as they piled up a towering lead of 382 at The Oval, and will look to stretch that past 400 when they resume on 313 for eight.
The tourists attempted to unsettle the hosts with a stream of chatter in a tense morning session, with Matthew Wade seemingly to the fore, and the stump microphone picked up attempts to wind up Ben Stokes during his combative knock of 67.
The England all-rounder missed the last Ashes series Down Under after his arrest for a late night scuffle in Bristol – an incident that ultimately led to his acquittal on charges of affray – and references to the city were seemingly audible from the close fielders.
Paine was brought in to captain his country in an overt attempt to clean up Australia’s reputation and conduct following the sandpaper scandal and did not take kindly to suggestions he had overseen a slip in standards.
“You tell me. It’s competitive Test cricket and people are going to talk to each other,” he said.
“I don’t know why it’s such an issue. It’s fine. They are grown men having a conversation, no-one is swearing, no-one is abusing anyone: it’s Test match cricket and I don’t understand why so much is made of something so little, particularly given the standard of cricket being played.
“I think there’s so much more to talk about. I think both sides have played this series in good spirit.”
Joe Denly was out in the middle for longer than any other batsman as he underpinned the England innings with a career-best innings of 94, and he declined to fan the flames any further.
“I didn’t hear anything about Bristol but when Ben comes to the crease, the kind of player he is, they’re going to try and unsettle him,” he said.
“Stokesy deals with that pretty well. There’s always going to be a bit of niggle but nothing over the line, just a bit of friendly banter.”
Denly has had a memorable few days, having become a father for the second time in between the first and second days of the match. To follow that personal news up with a performance of real grit and substance in his final appearance of the summer left him content and surprisingly well rested.
“I had a very good last night because I stayed at the hotel and got about 10 hours! The previous night I only had about three hours so I caught up,” he said.
“I missed the birth of my first child – he arrived three weeks early and I was playing in Derby, the midwife said ‘don’t rush’ so I didn’t! I hit traffic and missed it by about five minutes. So it was good to get there and see my little girl come into the world. It’s been a pretty special couple of days.
“It would have been nice to get to the milestone having worked so hard but I’d probably take it, yeah. England are in a very strong position going into day four and hopefully we get a few more runs and put them under pressure.”
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Skipper Tim Paine conceded that he and Australia have had a ‘nightmare’ with regards to the Decision Review System (DRS) in the Ashes after England consolidated their advantage with the bat in the final Test at the Oval.
Paine and Australia incorrectly failed to call for a review on two separate occasions on Day Three with the hosts ultimately swelling their second-innings total to 313-8.
Joe Denly and Jos Buttler were the batsmen to profit from Australia’s DRS-shy ways at the Oval with the former registering a career-best 94 while the latter struck 47 to add to his first-innings knock of 70.
It follows from what has been a disastrous tour for Australia in terms of DRS with their overall report-card now standing at six successful reviews out of a possible 32.
“I’m going to do some umpiring school when I get home. I’ll enroll in a Level 3 umpire course and see if can get them right,” Paine was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“I’m getting it wrong. I don’t know what else to say. We’re having a ‘mare. We’ve got it wrong. We’re not deliberately getting together and saying ‘gee, I reckon that’s out Gaz (Nathan Lyon). Do you want to refer it?’ ‘Nah, let’s let him keep batting’.
“We’re getting it wrong. It happens. It’s fast. It’s a tough job.”
Australia’s DRS errors means they are now staring at the prospect of a daunting final innings chase in the fifth Test with England’s overall second-innings lead standing at a commanding 382.
While those costly misses threaten to spoil Ashes 2019 campaign, it has given Paine a newfound appreciation for umpires.
“As I said I’ve said throughout the whole Test series, I’ve got a new respect for umpiring, particularly in Test cricket, because it’s a bloody hard job,” said Paine.
“For years players have whinged about umpiring and now we’ve got it in our own hands a little bit and we’re finding that it’s hard.”
In a setback for the Trinbago Knight Riders, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have recalled pacer Mohammad Hasnain from the ongoing 2019 Caribbean Premier League with immediate effect.
The 19-year-old pacer has appeared in all four CPL 2019 clashes so far for the Knight Riders and has claimed a total of six wickets after earlier obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the PCB to play the entire tournament.
However, the Pakistan board has had a late change of heart with the young pacer being recalled to participate in the revamped Quaid-e-Azam first-class tournament which got underway on Saturday.
The teenage pacer broke into prominence at the start of the year with his maiden Pakistan Super League (PSL) stint for Quetta Gladiators. Having picked up 12 wickets in the campaign, Hasnain was handed his ODI debut against Australia in the UAE before being picked in the Pakistan squad for the 2019 ICC World Cup.
Mohammad Hasnain has been on 🔥 for @TKRiders at the @CPL ⭐️— Cricingif (@_cricingif) September 10, 2019
Are you looking forward to seeing him in action for @TheRealPCB against @OfficialSLC? 👀👏#CPL2019 #BiggestPartyInSport 😍💯 pic.twitter.com/rYavoNvqH1
The youngster failed to make a single appearance in Pakistan’s World Cup campaign in England but he has been touted for a big international future with the raw pace he has displayed so far in his career.
The teenager clocked the fastest delivery of the ongoing CPL 2019 in Trinbago’s clash with Jamaica Tallawahs with a speed of 155 kph.
With senior pacers such as Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz walking away from red-ball cricket in recent times, Hasnain could add some depth to Pakistan’s pace battery ahead of their crucial tour of Australia towards the end of the year.