Ashes 2013: The day Australia fought back in the series

Tourists' anger over latest DRS controversy is soothed by wonderful day with the bat

Old Trafford

Australia at last showed the fighting spirit for which their sportsmen are renowned as captain Michael Clarke led the way with a superb century to complete the tourists' best day of the Ashes series to date.

Australia closed on 303 for 3 but, despite a thoroughly satisfactory day, their frustration was palpable following the latest bewildering umpiring decision of the five-match contest, which England lead 2-0.

After Usman Khawaja had been given out caught behind despite clearly not having hit a delivery from Graeme Swann, Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, sought clarification from the International Cricket Council about why the third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, had upheld the on-field official Tony Hill's original decision, after Khawaja had opted to review. Meanwhile, his fellow batsman Chris Rogers suggested that inadequate umpiring might put his team-mate's career in jeopardy.

"We understand and accept that from time to time mistakes can be made," Sutherland said. "However, in this instance, on behalf of the player, the team and all cricket fans, we feel duty-bound to seek further explanation as to how this decision was arrived at. In our view, the on-field decision and referred decision using DRS were both incorrect. Cricket Australia remains a strong supporter of DRS and believes it is important that cricket continues to improve and build confidence in the DRS."

Khawaja was clearly furious and it was left to Rogers to give vent to his colleague's anger. "These are people's careers on the line," said the opener, who scored a fine 84. "You want these decisions to be right. When we saw the replays, even the England players had given up hope of it being out. It was disappointing and another question mark. Even in real time, I didn't think Usman was anywhere near it."

The use and misuse of DRS was a prominent theme in the opening two Tests, and so it was again here. The latest episode nearly created a diplomatic incident as Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia, called it "one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen".

At least Steve Smith had more luck. Twice the batsman survived marginal decisions that England reviewed unsuccessfully. And then, when Smith appeared plumb lbw to Stuart Broad, England had no reviews left. Smith profited and ended the day 70 not out, with Clarke unbeaten on 125 after an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 174.

Broad tweeted: "Tough day. Depending on how you view some decisions, the Aussies could have been 300-1 or 300-6! That's how cricket goes." Broad spent time off the field with a tight calf and was moving gingerly towards the end of the day. He also appeared to remonstrate with fourth umpire Nick Cook about the condition of the footholds where the bowlers' feet land.

England are still in the box seat in the series but this day belonged to a relieved Australian side. Rogers added: "When guys you respect criticise you, it does hurt. It was justifiable but it strengthened our resolve to do better. I'm not naive enough to think I'll stay in the side if I don't score runs."

Khawaja wicket: Reaction

"That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen." Kevin Rudd, Australian Prime Minister

"Horrific decision Prime Minister !!!! Feeling for young Khawaja..." Shane Warne

"And people say you should Walk .... No chance when you get decisions like that...." Michael Vaughan

"Usman Khawaja has every right to knock on the umpires door over lunch & just ask HOW?" Tom Moody, former Australia player

"Dharmasena was the 3rd umpire. And he will umpire the next test!! Should be sacked!" Dean Jones

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