Aussies look to expel emotion, ghosts of reviews past

Australia were made to pay after exhausting their three reviews early on day three in Galle

When it comes to Australia and the Decision Review System, emotion is difficult to avoid.

There was some when Mitchell Starc stared beseechingly at his slip cordon early on Sunday afternoon after his appeal for caught behind against Dinesh Chandimal had been denied.

Starc of course had not been on the field three years ago when Australia's Headingley heartbreak was confirmed as umpire Joel Wilson failed to give Ben Stokes out after Nathan Lyon trapped him in front.

No one needs to be reminded that it was a decision they could have overturned and won that Test had captain Tim Paine not burnt the team's final review on a fanciful lbw shout off his successor Pat Cummins moments earlier.

Hence the scars of that day that robbed Australia of a first away Ashes series win in two decades are not burnt into Starc's cricketing soul quite the same as they are for the likes of his close mate Lyon.

But it might explain why the fast bowler was the only Australian in Galle seemingly unaware that, once again, Australia had chewed through all three of their available entreaties to the third umpire when Kumar Dharmasena denied their initial appeal.

The wind blowing in off the Indian Ocean was likely to blame for Dharmasena understandably failing to hear Chandimal's faint edge that was swiftly confirmed by broadcast technology.

The former Sri Lankan off-spinner was caught by cameras laughing apprehensively at the error, but the Aussies were not smiling as Chandimal went to stumps on Sunday unbeaten on 118.

Sri Lanka's No.5 has added 88 match-turning runs since his reprieve and could bat his side into an unbeatable position when he resumes his innings on day four.

Of course, there was no move on Australia's behalf to lay the blame at the feet of the umpire; coach Andrew McDonald was the first to point out after day three that errors, by players and officials alike, are part and parcel of Test cricket.

McDonald reveals lead target, praises Lyon's spell

But memories of that fateful Headingley blunder elicit exactly the kind of emotion Australia are now trying to eliminate from their decision-making process around reviews.

The question then for McDonald, a nitty-gritty operator concerned more with procedure than pomp, was how his side had gotten to a point of having no reviews left.

And whether their agreed method – a calm, consultative process between captain Cummins, wicketkeeper Alex Carey, the bowler and occasionally others that needs to be wrapped up within 15 seconds – had been followed.

"We're always discussing better ways of doing it," said McDonald, who is on his first tour in the job since being appointed full-time after Justin Langer's resignation earlier this year.

Image Id: 5AEF9C7465B74E5FBA81BDFFEF0743AA Image Caption: Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith desperately appeal after Australia had exhausted their reviews // Getty

"But I still think the process has to go back through the captain and for him to gather the information from square-on, from front-on and whoever's got the best vantage point, really.

"That's up to Patty to get that information within 15 seconds and it's easier said than done.

"Emotion can sometimes shift you, the situation of the game can sometimes shift you but we're trying to remove that out of our decision making.

"I was pleased with the discussions as to (how) they are arrived (at) their decision through the process. There's errors in the game everywhere. We made a couple today. That's the way it goes."

The fact Lyon, who cramped during a marathon 35-over spell on Sunday, was front and centre for two of three reviews Australia had earlier burnt was no coincidence given the frequency with which he induces appeals for lbws and bat-pad catches.

And in the space of three balls bowled by the country's greatest ever off-spinner, Australia's ability to refer any future decisions was gone after Angelo Mathews edged one they hoped he hadn't, and Chandimal did not edge one they hoped he had.

That was after Cummins, a day earlier against his opposite number Dimuth Karunaratne, sent a caught-behind decision upstairs off his own bowling that the opener had not gloved.

In all three cases, Australia's skipper had not rushed to make a decision.

"There was enough evidence to suggest they were close," McDonald said at stumps on day three with Sri Lanka ahead by 67 thanks largely to Chandimal.

"Like anything the umpires are sometimes unsure and we're sometimes unsure. That happens and that played out on the back of us using our reviews.

"No one's perfect and you're not always going to get them right.

"But the process we went through is the most important thing for us and we'll continue to go through those processes to make those decisions.

"Unfortunately we didn't quite get it right today. But the game is littered with mistakes – that's just part of the game."

The consequences of that process are then for the team to bear. 

Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana, Lakshitha Manasinghe, Dunith Wellalage, Prabath Jayasuriya, Lakshan Sandakan

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. Standby players: Matthew Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy

June 29 - July 3: Australia won by 10 wickets

July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST

Sri Lanka v Australia Test matches will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports