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Jonathan Agnew Ashes column

James Anderson sees an lbw appeal overturned
Hussey's successful referral thwarted the desperately unlucky Anderson

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

If you woke up this morning and saw Australia's scorecard, you probably assessed England did not play well. Let me tell you that simply was not the case.

England could not have done anything more with the ball before lunch. They could have rolled Australia over in the morning session but luck was conspicuously absent for the tourists at the Gabba.

If you look at Australia's innings, the first five wickets went for 143 runs and the last five fell for only 31.

But what matters is the 307-run stand between the rejuvenated Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, a stand which one would think has put Australia in an unbeatable situation.

However, the talking point of the day for England fans was once again the Umpire Decision Review System.

I know I have repeated this a number of times in previous columns, but what is the point in having it if it doesn't get decisions right?

"Snicko", the bit of kit used to detect faint edges, is not instantaneous - which means it is not available to the third umpire - and that is why Michael Clarke's original not out decision was upheld when England referred a caught behind appeal on Friday.

However, Snicko showed there had been contact with the bat - but by this time it was way too late, England had wasted their final appeal and were made to pay when Michael Hussey was trapped in front by James Anderson on 85 in the morning session.

If Swann still can't get it right after Adelaide, then playing an additional bowler is something England may have to seriously consider

I don't blame umpire Aleem Dar. He is probably the best umpire in the world, and has made some superb decisions in this match.

But having had a decision overturned by third umpire Tony Hill, when Hussey asked for an lbw decision to be reviewed, it was inevitable that umpire Dar would be more conservative when England went up for an appeal which looked more convincing than the one overturned four overs before.

If the system is in place, it has to be used for every single decision and it must be used fully.

That said, England were totally devoid of luck in the morning session, but they beat the bat so many times.

James Anderson will never bowl as brilliantly and be as unlucky as he was in the morning. He was outstanding, banishing doubts about whether he could be just as potent with the Kookaburra ball and bowling well in Australian conditions.

And to see him drop a catch too - he is one of England's most reliable fielders - he must have done something to upset someone up above.

As Anderson tired as the afternoon session wore on, it highlighted the issues of playing four bowlers in the heat and humidity of Australia with only Paul Collingwood for support.

The addition of a fifth bowler would have helped considerably, especially with Graeme Swann unusually expensive.

Jack S

The off-spinner bowled five maidens in 45 overs, when that figure would usually be closer to 15. That's not the job he is here to do. He has to create pressure with dot balls and maidens so the seamers can be rotated and rested.

If Swann still can't get it right after Adelaide, then playing an additional bowler is something England may have to seriously consider. There is also an argument that if England drop their sixth batsman and play an additional bowler, it would heap more responsibility to the top five to score vital runs.

I'm a big advocate of playing five bowlers but I can't see England moving Matt Prior up to six, even though I think Stuart Broad is good enough to be a number seven in Test cricket. I can only envisage them adopting those tactics in Sydney, the fifth and final Test, if they need nothing else but a win.

England's resilience will be tested to the maximum in the next two days if they are to save this Test match.

The best case scenario is England are 300-4 with an 80-odd run lead on Sunday evening. The worst case scenario is the Test match is over.

England must bat for at least four sessions to successfully ensure they do not travel to Adelaide 1-0 down in the series.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Pranav Soneji

Listen to the day three Test Match Special podcast right here.

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see also
Hussey and Haddin hammer England
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First Ashes Test in photos
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Justin Langer's key moments
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England ready to fight for draw
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England in Australia 2010-11
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Live cricket on the BBC
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