Ashes: Jos Buttler rallies for England after Australia’s bowlers impress again
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From Stephan Shemilt
BBC Sport in The Oval
Jos Buttler’s late hitting went some way towards rescuing England following a familiarly batting performance on the opening day of the final Ashes Test at The Oval.
Buttler crunched on three sixes in his own 64 out not to take England into 271-8 within an unbroken stand of 45 with tailender Jack Leach that was dependable.
The home side had dropped five wickets to slip from 170-3 to 226-8.
That position could have been worse to England had while an lbw decision was overturned by Rory Burns about the way.
When they had been together, Australia captain Tim Paine’s decision looked like backfiring.
The tourists were awarded the ascendancy from 4-35 for Buttler, only from Mitchell Marsh to launch his counter-attack that was sensational.
After all, there was also the sense which England are short on what looks like a surface, of level, however they’ve been kept from the sport by Buttler.
Along with however that might require England to find a way to dismiss the Steve Smith the pitch could dry out enough for a fourth-innings pursuit to be tricky for Australia, then post a tough target.
There had been instances when this afternoon had an end-of-term feeling with Australia having retained the Ashes, and the two sides showed signs of limping towards an intense summer’s end.
Paine preferring to subject due to a green tinge to the pitch’s shock has been matched by the decision to omit Mitchell Starc in favour of fellow pace bowler Peter Siddle. There were times when both calls appeared like errors.
Catches went down, Siddle was this Australian bowlers’ lacklustre and, as the sunlight shone in the afternoon conditions were ideal.
However, the temptation, their inability to occupy the crease and not throw wickets away of England, meant they couldn’t take advantage.
As Australia enhanced, they took the upper hand as a result of a mix of Marsh’s bowling along with the presents from a number of England’s batsmen.
Came Buttler, who switched with a few barbarous striking. Even with every fielder on the boundary, he could not be contained by Australia , to the joy of a formerly deflated Oval.
England had a real opportunity to punish Paine if Burns and Root added 76 both sides of lunch.
Burns scored his feet and throughout the covers. Root, following a string that was tough, was prepared himself to the foot.
He was set down off Siddle on 30 at long leg 24 and by wicketkeeper Paine on 25 off Cummins, then by second slip Smith.
When Burns shovelled a pull at Josh Hazlewood into mid-on they were , however it was.
The skipper has attracted deliveries all series and this one that nipped off to take the off bail was another wonder, albeit Root was in no position.
Buttler saw most of this collapse from the opposite end, but ultimately found a ready ally in Leach, that affirmed Ben Stokes in Headingley and lived for an hour England fought to conserve the Test.
Buttler had performed a few sumptuous cover drives before he even upped the ante, nevertheless successive straight sixes away Hazlewood and a blow on the rope that was leg-side overshadowed them away the man.
There were instances when he protected Leach such as fending off the 2nd new ball but 10 had confronted 31 deliveries because of his 10 not out.
All-rounder Marsh came in to perform with his first Test since December and encourage the Australia pace attack.
There were instances when he outshone the remaining bowlers by swinging the ball.
He had after Root dropped, was that the architect of the collapse of England, Stokes miscue a tug then.
The two Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow played inswingers to be lbw either side of Sam Curran, who had survived being leg-before to a Cummins no-ball.
Into his own 16th over, and as Buttler was beginning to tick, Marsh pulled up with cramp and had to depart the area.
He returned managed yet another over, but at that point, Buttler was to his clean-hitting stride.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan:”England must have been on course for 400 to put some scoreboard pressure on Steve Smith.
“A combination of too little program, inadequate thinking and a few good bowling methods England have dropped.
“Australia will be delighted with this place given they really had a bad day.”
England’s Jos Buttler, talking to TMS:”It’s wonderful to contribute a tiny bit. The boys well in the morning and we got ourselves into a great position but could not capitalise.
“Batting was hard work rather than enjoyable this series so I wanted to take the shackles off and play with a grin on my face.”
Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, talking to Sky Sports:”I was just like a child at Christmas this afternoon. It is sometimes a tour whenever you are not playing. I wanted to attempt to find an opportunity at some point and it was nice today to make.
“The ball came out fairly well. I only wanted to come in today and have some wickets.”
Analysis and comment from the BBC’s cricket correspondent.