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SYDNEY (AFP) – Profligate use of reviews ultimately cost Australia a heart-breaking first Test loss and has damaged their chances of regaining the Ashes, the nation's newspapers said.
England just held their nerve to win the first Test by 14 runs at Trent Bridge on Sunday amid continuing controversy over the Decision Review System (DRS) which ended Australia's brave bid to stage a miraculous come-from-behind victory.
While conceding England were the better team over the five compelling days of the opening Test, Australia's media said their team paid for their poor use of the DRS at critical moments in the tense match.
"Had there been more diligent use of the umpire decision review system Australia would have had a review remaining late on day three when Stuart Broad was inexplicably given not out by umpire Aleem Dar when a thick edge flew from the gloves of Brad Haddin to Michael Clarke at slip," The Sydney Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Conn said.
"The thick edge that Broad survived is a complete contrast to the finest touch from Haddin's bat which Dar and bowler Jimmy Anderson did not hear but which was awarded to England on review, ending the Test in such dramatic fashion.
"The DRS was originally conceived to rid the game of the howler and will remain fundamentally flawed until that is achieved but it is the system both teams must use in this series and Clarke admits Australia must get better at it," he added.
The Melbourne Age lamented the below par contributions of Australia's top order batsmen in the post-mortem examination of the defeat.
"It was this simple, and this impossible: England won the nine topmost wickets of this heart-stopping, heart-warming and heart-breaking Test match by 240 runs, and Australia won the last wicket by 226 runs," The Age's Greg Baum wrote.
"For Australia, in the end, vastly too much was asked of miserably too few, who so nearly and miraculously delivered anyway. But England's win was merited and meritorious.
"The finishing note was both poetic and anti-climactic: an appeal, a not out decision, a referral and an overturning. Australia had blown seven referrals in the match, England just one, and now had one left when it most mattered. So it was that the Test match finished not with the last ball, but the Decision Review System's deconstruction of it."
The Australian's Wayne Smith said the Trent Bridge Test would be remembered for the angst over the DRS.
"The opening Test has ended on an appropriate note of DRS controversy after a not-out ruling against Brad Haddin 15 runs short of victory was overturned on referral," he said.
"This should be a Test recalled for the batting heroics of teenage Australian debutant Ashton Agar and the inspired 10-wicket swing bowling of England pace spearhead James Anderson but instead it will be remembered mainly for all the angst caused by the Decision Review System."
Fairfax Media's Malcolm Knox said England had now lost their psychological weapon: the sense of inevitability.
"When a team has a recent history of winning, the first thing it wants to do is implant, in the opponent, an old 'Here we go again' feeling. Australia was excellent at doing this in its years of dominance, and it carries across all sports," he said.
"England was desperate to reimpose that feeling, but Australia's disciplined and persistent bowling pulled the situation back from the brink."
That sense of inevitability is certainly not the case now, Knox said.
The second Test is at Lord's starting Thursday.