England were denied in Trinidad for plenty of reasons, but the most galling was their failure to grasp the umpire review system. Plenty of people have sniffed their irritation with it over the past few weeks, accusing it of slowing the game down and – that hoariest of romantic gripes – detracting from the authority of the on-field umpire (Russell Tiffin? Daryl Harper? Authority?). Yet if the players keep misapplying the system by gambling with it, they will have to keep their grumbles to themselves.

There is a case for arguing that England blew their best chance of victory when they referred an appeal for leg-before on the second evening after Jimmy Anderson struck the pads of Devon Smith. The not-out decision was correctly upheld – the ball had pitched some way outside leg-stump – which meant that when Graeme Swann’s shout for lbw against Chris Gayle moments later was also referred and also turned down, England had used up both lives with the bulk of the innings still to come.

This folly was exposed on the third day, when Monty Panesar had Brendan Nash so plumb in front that the only reason Tiffin could have said no was because he blinked at the crucial moment. (If he really turned Monty down to punish him for excessive appealing, he deserves to be fined too.) Had England saved a review, Nash would almost certainly have been on his way for 24. Instead he made 109. In a tight game, the difference hardly needs spelling out.

The point here is that England – and West Indies for that matter – haven’t worked out what the review system is about. It was not intended for borderline leg-before decisions. It was intended to get rid of the howlers. Yet England chose to gamble instead.

Anderson was bowling over-the-wicket to a left-handed batsman, a scenario in which lbws are only plumb if the ball is pitched right up. And, last night, Panesar wasted England’s second second-innings review when Gayle padded up well outside the line of off-stump. According to the current rubric, that is precisely the kind of decision which is not going to be over-ruled by the TV umpire – especially as the umpires, crazily, don’t have access to the predictive element of Hawkeye. Yet Andrew Strauss did not have the presence of mind to dissuade Panesar, who is not the most objective judge at the best of times.

West Indies were no better. They wasted umpire reviews in their second innings on leg-before decisions after batsmen had been rightly given out, and paid the price when Ryan Hinds was triggered after apparently missing the ball, by which time they had no lives left.

This system was brought in to avoid a repetition of Andrew Symonds’ nick off Ishant Sharma at Sydney prior to a series-winning hundred. It was not intended to over-rule questionable lbw shouts. The sooner England realise this, the more chance they’ll have of keeping Australia at bay this summer.