"You can only imagine how disappointed he (Paine) is. It's natural. I would be upset if he wasn't disappointed and feeling deflated about it." Getty

Australia head coach Justin Langer admitted that the narrow one-wicket defeat to England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley has stung his boys and was strong in defense of skipper Tim Paine who has been under-fire from all quarters, including former Aussie cricketers.

The 34-year-old hasn't been great with reviews and a shocking decision to take one against Jack Leach, backfired in the very next over when Ben Stokes wasn't given out LBW to what was an obvious call. Langer threw his weight behind Paine despite the obviously unsatisfactory result and was confident that Australia would be able to regroup for the remaining matches of the series.

"You can only imagine how disappointed he (Paine) is. It's natural. I would be upset if he wasn't disappointed and feeling deflated about it. You've got no idea how much losing today hurts," said Langer at the post-match presser.

"Whether you're the captain or the coach or a senior player, you've got to get up. We will be disappointed for a day or a night. We might not talk much about it for a day perhaps. But when we get back on it tomorrow, we'll review it, like we do every game, and we'll review it together. Make sure we get it better next time"

When Stokes wasn't given out, England still had a review left in the tank while the Aussies had none. This has started a debate as to whether umpire Joel Wilson should have, in his moment of self-doubt, given it out and let the hosts challenge the call. Langer, however, didn't agree with this despite being on the wrong end of the result.

"The umpire should make the decision he thinks is right regardless of reviews, in my opinion. So, if they think it's out, they should give it and if they don't, give it not out. The review system is as it is, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't."

The umpiring all through the series has been shambolic and Wilson, in particular, has had to bear the brunt of the criticism. As things stand, he is done for the remainder of the Ashes series, but all the umpiring howlers shouldn't take away the fact that Australia have been below-par in their DRS usage - a point Langer readily agrees to.

"Yes, we've been really poor at it this series. There wasn't so many this game as there was at Lord's. Certainly, we have control on that and we do have some plans in place for it. But sometimes, you just don't get it right. Also, to be fair, the one off Pat Cummins at the end, we were getting desperate and that often happens. That's how things work out."

Langer was lavish in his praise of Stokes' innings and rated the Durham all-rounder's century very highly. While the narrowness of the defeat is bound to hurt Australia, the 48-year-old sounded optimistic regarding the next two Tests.

"It was an unbelievable game of cricket. Everyone remembers 1981, Botham. I hate to say it, but for the game of cricket, this was an unbelievable game. The Ben Stokes innings was incredible. Obviously, we're all disappointed in the change room. Need to shake ourselves up now and get on the next one."

It was a roller-coaster fourth day that begun with England having a reasonable chance of succeeding in the chase and the momentum went to and fro right till the very end of the game. In hindsight, Stokes' counter-attack stunned the Australians so much that their famous spirit got disintegrated as the game neared completion.

"We had our chances, three or four chances. He played like he had nothing-to-lose and played an innings which, I think it's tough to see a better one than that. At Lunch, we knew it was game on. The first hour today was probably the best Test match bowling that would see but when the new ball came, it took us by surprise and we probably tried a bit too hard and bowled a touch too short. But we pulled it back after lunch, which was a great fightback. Obviously couldn't finish it off. Have to get better at that."

Steve Smith, who sat out this Test match due to the aftereffects of concussion, is expected to return to the XI for Old Trafford, given the recuperation time that's on offer. On his part, Langer didn't offer any confirmation on the same and chose to play down the question.

"Well, we'll work that out. Actually, there are some big questions to look at. One thing I do know is that we aren't batting well at the moment. I said this at the start of the series that the team who bats better will win the Ashes. We certainly aren't at our best with the batting at the moment. Some questions to ask ourselves during the practice game and then, the fourth Test."

Australia do face a tricky problem if and when Smith returns to the XI. With Marnus Labuschagne performing as he is, it would be difficult to bench the Queenslander and that could mean pressure on Matthew Wade who has a century to his name in the series but hasn't been consistent thereafter. While David Warner notched a fifty in the first innings at Headingley, he has mostly struggled and his partners haven't fared well either.

"We can't fit them all in," quipped Langer. "We've also got to work out that after a long summer, we've got to rest some players, just to give them a mental freshen up more than anything else. Obviously, we've got two Tests to win or lose the Ashes."

"We've been stressing from day one that we need to give time for the players to freshen up. There was a World Cup before this series and sometimes, a mental break is more important than anything else. We need to sort those questions out, regarding who do we play and whom do we give a break."

Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, none of the Australian batsmen have weighed in with significant scores with the main disappointment coming in the form of Usman Khawaja. The seasoned player has barely looked convincing in his knocks thus far but Langer didn't seem fussed about the southpaw's mediocre returns.

"I think there are a number of guys we're hoping would do well. Not just Uzzie. He has played a lot of cricket and averages over 40 in Tests. He got a Test hundred seven innings ago I reckon. We know he is a good player and he, like the rest of us, are working hard for the next Test."

Looking at the larger picture of the series, Australia have been more than competitive, something that wasn't expected of them from many, given their recent struggles in Test cricket. While the return of Smith and Warner was bound to strengthen the side, the visitors have still punched far above their weight and that's one thing that spurs Langer to look ahead.

"Well, we've got 10 days left and a game to play against Derbyshire. Plenty to play for. It's 1-1 and it was really close here, wasn't it? One more wicket and we would have been 2-0 up, and would have felt pretty good about ourselves but that's sport. We'll pick ourselves up."