Australia earned some belated respite with a stoic batting effort on the opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.
A fairytale innings will have to wait until the tourists’ second dig after retiring captain Michael Clarke was dismissed for 15, but David Warner and Steve Smith guided the embattled Aussies through to 3/287 before bad light ended play in the 80th over.
The recall of veteran Peter Siddle ahead of Pat Cummins as Josh Hazlewood’s replacement raised many an eyebrow before play started, but Australia dug in from the outset after being sent in to bat.
— cricketnext (@cricketnext) August 20, 2015
The prolific opening pair of Warner and Chris Rogers – appearing in their final Test together before the latter hangs up the gloves – combined for yet another century opening stand.
Rogers was dismissed by Mark Wood, who retained his spot after James Anderson failed to recover from a side strain, for 43 with Australia on 110. Warner’s confident innings came to an end at 85, caught at slip off Moeen Ali.
England assembled for a touching guard of honour as Clarke walked out to the crease, but after a superb lofted boundary, he was caught behind off the bowling of Ben Stokes with Australia evenly poised at 3/186.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 20, 2015
But Steve Smith (79 not out) and Adam Voges (47 not out) put some ordinary recent form behind them to rack up an unbeaten century stand just before play was called off, laying an excellent foundation for Australia to snare a face-saving victory.
Smith’s superb knock ended a disturbing run of four straight single-figure scores.
Wood was the pick of the England bowlers with 1/41 at just 2.27 runs per over, while Stuart Broad (0/43 at 2.86 runs per over) toiled hard for no reward.
Stud of the day
It hasn’t been the happiest of tours for Australia’s next vice-captain, but David Warner stepped up at The Oval to belt 11 fours after a patient start on a green deck. Warner’s 85 meant he has scored a half-century in each of the five Tests in the series, and lifted his series average to a semi-respectable 38.78.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) August 20, 2015
Rather than just one moment, it was the ability of Rogers and Warner to see off England’s early pace assault. Their determined effort set the tone for a gritty day of batting by the Australian side.
Australia has done the hard work, but now they have to capitalise and push past 400. But Johnson, Starc and Siddle will be licking their lips at getting a crack at the English batsmen on a pitch that is doing plenty.
- Rogers and Warner notched their ninth century and passed 2,000 runs as an opening pair. The next best effort since the beginning of 2012 is four century stands and 1,287 runs by South African duo Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen.
- Australia’s opening partnership has averaged 62.77, while England’s has scored a measly 14 per innings.
- Smith is on track for his seventh Test century in the space of nine months – all scored in the first innings.