Tim Paine's move paid off.
Tim Paine's move paid off.

Paine’s big gamble pays off in the end

IN a series that has involved a rollercoaster of momentum swings, for once Australia and England shared the spoils in a mostly even day at the Oval.

The home side were surprisingly sent in by Tim Paine, and proceeded to cruise to 3-170 on the back of a Joe Root half-century and a sloppy display in the field by Australia.

They'd seemingly had laid a solid platform for a big total - before Mitchell Marsh rocked up to turn the day on its head with a four-wicket haul.

 

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England took the final hour, however, with an aggressive Jos Buttler finishing unbeaten on 64 as England ended the day 8-271.

Here's what you missed overnight…

PAINE'S PUZZLING CALL VINDICATED

With the Oval's reputation of a batsman-friendly wicket, and the heavy workload of Australia's attack fresh in the mind, most expected Tim Paine, after winning the toss, to send David Warner and Marcus Harris out to bat.

 

Tim Paine raised eyebrows when he won the toss and elected to field first.
Tim Paine raised eyebrows when he won the toss and elected to field first.

But the Aussie skipper went with his gut and backed his bowling unit to do the business against a fragile England team. He was roundly panned - by punters and commentators alike - especially when England cruised to 3-170.

But who had the last laugh? Paine would've felt properly vindicated by stumps as England finished 8-271.

ENGLAND'S BLAZING START

OK, so it wasn't a blazing start by any means. But by putting on 27 for the first wicket Joe Denly and Rory Burns, somewhat incredibly, now own the biggest opening partnership of the series - for either side.

England opener Rory Burns got the hosts off to an unusually competent start.
England opener Rory Burns got the hosts off to an unusually competent start.

And they roared past the previous best, 22 between Burns and Jason Roy in the second innings at Edgbaston, with a boundary.

It's not the biggest of the northern summer though. That honour goes to Ireland's William Porterfield and James McCollum, who put on 32 in their one-off Test against England at Lord's.

DENLY IN THE GUN

Jason Roy was first dumped as England's opener, and then left out altogether for the Oval Test - and Joe Denly must be worried he could go down the same path.

Denly got a second innings half-century at Old Trafford but has yet to stamp his mark on his Test career, and another cheap dismissal on Thursday leaves him under serious pressure.

While there's no shame in losing your wicket to Pat Cummins, Denly let himself down with an aggressive drive and a thick edge which Steve Smith juggled and juggled before taking the catch on his third attempt.

ROOT IS DROPPED ONCE. TWICE. THRICE!

Ordinarily you don't want to give Joe Root a second chance - but Australia gave him three.

Peter Siddle was first, dropping a simple offering at fine leg when Root, on 24, hooked a short delivery from Pat Cummins down the paceman's throat.

Siddle made an absolute meal of his effort, but at least it was his catch. The same could not be said when Tim Paine leapt out in front of David Warner at first slip, with Root on 25, and grassed a chance of his own - again off Cummins.

Siddle had his own reason to be grumpy when he had Root, on 30 this time, driving and nicking wide of second slip - where Steve Smith dropped a tough chance diving to his right.

It was costly, as Root made a half-century.

SLOPPY ENGLAND'S WASTEFUL WICKETS

With Australia looking a bit sluggish, England had a chance to drive home their advantage after lunch - but instead, had their two best batsmen this series out throwing their wickets away to lazy shots.

Rory Burns, on the cusp of another half-century, fell into Australia's short-ball trap and top-edged a Josh Hazlewood bouncer which was skied to Mitch Marsh at mid-wicket.

If Burns' was a bad shot, Stokes' seemed tantamount to a brain explosion. This time it was Marsh with the short ball, Stokes looking to hit onto the legside, and he was caught at point off a leading edge for 20.

Joe Root is having a miserable series.
Joe Root is having a miserable series.

ROOT'S CONVERSION RATE WOES

He had every available chance - we've noted the dropped catches already - but still Joe Root wasn't able to cash in for a century, out for 57 shortly after tea.

Root copped a gem from Cummins, which stayed a little low and moved away to thud into middle stump. He has one of the worst conversion rates of an elite batsman in history, with 45 half-centuries but 'just' passing three figures 16 times.

It's also the ninth straight Ashes half-century which he's failed to convert into a ton.

WHEN WILL AUSSIES WORK OUT DRS?

Australia were more cautious with their DRS use on Thursday, having been burnt time and time again throughout this series, but when they did send one upstairs… well, you should already know what happened.

Australia hoped they had Jos Buttler strangled down the legside off Mitchell Marsh - but Marais Erasmus disagreed, reasoning it had come off the batsman's thigh guard.

Tim Paine called for a review, which confirmed Erasmus' suspicion… and it was another burnt review.

Australia have now had six decisions overturned from 30 attempts.

Mitch Marsh swung the match back to Australia.
Mitch Marsh swung the match back to Australia.

MARSH RIPS THROUGH ENGLAND

This is the Mitchell Marsh the Australian selectors have been waiting all these years for.

Marsh was first economical and then devastating as he ripped through England's middle order with three wickets to add to his earlier dismissal of Stokes.

Bowling full and swinging it a mile, Marsh had the wickets of Jonny Bairstow (22), Sam Curran (15) and Chris Woakes (2) in quick time to give Australia a healthy advantage late in the day.

MARSH PULLS UP LAME

Brought in to take up the slack from warhorse duo Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, Marsh was outstanding with the ball - getting the ball to hoop around and finishing with four wickets for the day.

He churned through 15 overs and looked every bit the all-rounder Australia as hoped he'd be for the past five years.

But 16 was one too many, with Marsh twice pulling out of his run-up before grabbing his right hamstring after just one ball. Concerns of a serious injury were allayed as he jogged from the ground, suggesting it was more likely cramp had struck down the 27-year-old.

He was off for a pickle juice and was back on ten minutes later.

SIDDLE OVER STARC BACKFIRES?

Once it was clear Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were fit to fire, the last spot in the Australian XI was narrowed down to Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc.

Australia went down the Siddle route, aiming to 'suffocate' England according to Tim Paine - but the plan backfired with the Victorian enduring his loosest day of the tour, finishing the day with 0-61 from 17 overs.

Peter Siddle had a day to forget after beating Mitch Starc to the final pace bowler’s spot.
Peter Siddle had a day to forget after beating Mitch Starc to the final pace bowler’s spot.

Starc wasn't perfect at Old Trafford, but did come up with key partnership breakers in both innings prompting Glenn McGrath to wonder whether Australia had pulled the wrong rein.

"I'm really surprised (Starc) is not in. (As a) left-armer, he offers something different," said Australia's second-highest wicket taker.

THE WRONG LEACH IMPERSONATION

First, there was the bizarre fallout from 'glasses-gate', with Steve Smith accused of mocking bespectacled England cult hero Jack Leach before flipping it around and saying it was in fact former Australian teammate Chris Rogers who had been his target.

And then Australia found a different way to impersonate Leach - this time with Pat Cummins following in the spinner's footsteps by taking a wicket with a no ball, when he trapped Sam Curran LBW only to have replays confirm he'd overstepped the mark.

It didn't cost Australia too dearly, however. Curran was out for 15 shortly after, falling to Marsh.

BUTTLER GOES INTO T20 MODE

There were shades of Ben Stokes at Headingley in Jos Buttler's outstanding late revival, smashing a sparkling, unbeaten 64 as he partnered with Jack Leach to add 45 for the ninth wicket so far.

Like Stokes, Buttler went into T20 mode - smacking Josh Hazlewood back over his head for a powerful six, one of three in his innings to date, to signal his intent.

With Tim Paine putting Australia's batsmen on the boundary to stifle Buttler, he still managed to find the rope with a series of bludgeoning stokes and an audacious reverse sweep among his six boundaries.

News Corp Australia


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