Joe Root’s record reprieves, Mitchell Marsh’s masterly execution and that toss. Here’s the pick of day one at the Oval…
Jos Buttler tonked 64 not out from 84 balls to lift England up to 271-8 by stumps on day one at The Oval after an afternoon batting collapse had them in trouble at 205-7, writes David Currie.
England lost four wickets for 35 runs early on in the final session, having been reasonably well placed at 169-3 at tea, captain Joe Root (57) cashing in on three earlier dropped chances to bring up a 45th Test fifty.
Australia dried up the runs after the interval and, after Pat Cummins bowled Root for the second successive Test, Mitchell Marsh (4-35) – seeing his first action for the series – ran through the lower order before Buttler’s big-hitting heroics.
Stat of the Day
Moment of the Day
Australia’s ability to crank up the pressure paid handsome dividends after tea as Pat Cummins pegged back Joe Root’s off-stump with a cracker but Mitchell Marsh’s dismissal of Jonny Bairstow eclipsed it for planning and perfect execution.
The recalled all-rounder sent down 12 out-swingers before slipping in the in-swinger that had Bairstow’s footwork all in a muddle. The ball would have uprooted leg-stump had Bairstow’s pad not got in the way and Marsh’s jubilant celebrations were understandable. I love it when a plan comes together, as someone once said.
Did Australia let England off the hook? It might seem an odd question given the hosts’ position at stumps but the tourists showed early signs of an Old Trafford hangover – understandably so having already retained the Ashes. Captain Tim Paine rather set the tone by choosing to bowl first after winning the toss – a decision that Shane Warne, among many others, found hard to fathom.
They are giving up a huge advantage, he opined. Yes, there’s a little bit of grass on it but it looks a good, flat pitch to bat on. Nor was Warne quite sure why Australia had opted for Peter Siddle ahead of James Pattinson, to put it mildly, and the former hardly justified his selection by shelling Root on 24 and bowling an indifferent opening spell. When Paine shelled Root a run later, and Steve Smith missed a more difficult chance when England’s captain had 30, Australia’s generosity appeared to overflow.
But cue the fightback, with Marsh to the fore. Time will tell if Paine made the right call at the toss. A win is a win, no matter how you get there, and Australia would seem in the box-seat.
Tweets of the Day
What they said
David Lloyd on Rory Burns: He finds a way and he goes away during his downtime and works with his coach. This is his 12th Test match, he’s scored a century against Australia and he will only benefit from this experience. He looks fine, he finds a way to score runs and he looks a brave player.
Nasser Hussain on the toss: Paine has thought, ‘there’s a bit of grass, we’ll have a bowl and have them 20-3 again’ as England so often are. But you have to think of both ends of the game because on the last day it can get a little bit uneven and start to spin.
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