The use of the Decision Review System again proved problematic for new England captain Joe Root as his charges stared beyond the horizon at a victory target 472 runs away after day three of the second Test against South Africa.
England have been on the back foot at Trent Bridge from the moment returning Proteas captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bat, and the hosts’ problems have been compounded by the poor use of the DRS by Root.
Quick Single: England facing mighty run chase
Having burnt both of their reviews by the 24th over in the first innings, Root wasted a referral in the fifth over of the South Africa’s second innings – an lbw shout against opener Heino Kuhn that stayed with the on-field umpire’s call of not out – and then failed to review a clear outside edge off the bat of Hashim Amla when the veteran was on 25 in over No.28.
Amla was eventually dismissed for 87, out lbw after his own review was turned down, and was the backbone of South Africa’s second innings of 9-343 declared that secured a 473-run lead.
The use of the DRS by Root has former England skipper Nasser Hussain, who described England's review strategy as "absolute chaos" on Sky Sports, calling for an immediate plan to be put in place to avoid missing opportunities like Amla’s edge.
"One of the things Joe Root has to sort out quickly is England's use of the Decision Review System," Hussain wrote in The Daily Mail on Sunday. "It's all a bit of a mess — and, like it or not, it's now a crucial part of captaining a Test team.
"To an extent, I can understand why things look a bit disorganised right now.
"It's a combination of having a new captain and some pretty emotional bowlers, as we saw when Stokes persuaded Root to use up a review against Hashim Amla on the first morning.
"At the moment, people are charging around and Root is getting sucked into it all.
"Part of the reason they failed to review Amla's nick off Stuart Broad when he was on 25 was because they'd wasted one the previous evening when Jimmy Anderson was bowling (to Kuhn).
"England need to sit down and agree to a protocol. They can't afford to keep getting these things wrong."
Anderson, who played a part in convincing Root to call for a review against Kuhn, said after day two it’s "tricky" when deciding to refer an umpire’s decision.
"You’ve got 15 seconds, you’ve got to try and communicate as quickly as possible and you need a system to it," Anderson told BBC Test Match Special.
"We’re going to have to come up with something pretty quickly to try and get these thing right."
The DRS laws are set to change on October 1, with sides set to no longer be penalised a review if the verdict is ‘umpire’s call’.
In addition, reviews will no longer be restored after 80 overs, meaning each team has only two reviews for the entirety of the innings.
England spinner Moeen Ali said some of Root’s reviews were born out of desperation as the Proteas hammered home their advantage.
"It is tough and a couple of them we were desperately trying to get wickets and they were quite close, although the Stokesy one (against Amla where a clear inside edge ruled out lbw) was ridiculous. I told him that," said Moeen.
"Rooty is new to it and it will take him time to go to the right people."