Australia took Day One honours in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval on Thursday. Despite shoddy fielding leading to five dropped catches, they restricted England to 283. In reply they were 66 for one at stumps. (More Cricket News)
Pat Cummins finally won the toss and put the hosts in. Harry Brook was entertaining as only he can be, scoring 85 in 91 balls at a remarkable Test strike rate of 93.40. But led by Mitchell Starc (4/82 in 14.4 overs), the Australian attack was on target in overcast conditions in London. Starc took his tally for this series to 19.
After an opening stand of 62 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, England lost quick wickets and were suddenly at 73/3. Joe Root was an important breakthrough for Australia as he played on trying to guide Josh Hazlewood down to third man. He made just five.
Then Brook arrived. The Bazball exponent hit seven fours and two sixes as he whizzed towards his 50 when the first session ended. But he also rode his luck, as he was dropped by keeper Alex Carey right at the beginning of his innings.
Undeterred, Brook stuck to his attacking gameplan. In the penultimate over before lunch, he hit Starc for successive fours and then a six.
Australia made one change to their team for the final Test by including spinner Todd Murphy in place of all-rounder Cameron Green.
England made no changes to their team from the drawn fourth Test in Manchester. They were on the ascendant in that match and could have made it 2-2. But rain denied them. Australia retained the Ashes, which they have now held since 2017.
By deciding to retain the Manchester side, England have given an opportunity to veteran fast bowler James Anderson. Turning 41 on July 30, England's leading wicket-taker in Tests (689) is expected by some to bid goodbye to the game after the fifth Test.