Sport Cricket Marsh saves the day for sloppy Australia at Ashes
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Marsh saves the day for sloppy Australia at Ashes

Mitchell Marsh celebrations=friends.
Mitchell Marsh rose to the occasion and kept Australia's dreams alive. photo: Getty
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Mitchell Marsh made the most of his call-up to take four valuable wickets on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Playing his first test of the year in place of the dropped Travis Head, all-rounder Marsh took 4-35 off 16.1 overs to lead the way for the tourists as England reached stumps at 8-271.

A huge first-innings score looked on the cards with England at 1-103 and 3-170 but Marsh took three wickets in the final session as England slumped to 8-226.

Jos Buttler swung hard in the last hour, though, and finished on 64 not out as the hosts pushed towards 300.

Australia was not at its best, dropping Joe Root three times while Pat Cummins (2-73) also took a wicket from a no-ball.

That made the day harder than it might have been and Cummins and Josh Hazlewood (2-76) had to bowl 22.5 and 21 overs respectively with Nathan Lyon on light duties.

The off-spinner, who split one of his fingers in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, bowled just four overs.

Peter Siddle (0-61) was far from his best, too, but Marsh stepped up and did a tremendous job of swinging the momentum Australia’s way.

“I was like a kid at Christmas this morning … I was so excited. It can be a long tour when you’re not playing,” Marsh, who suffered cramp late in the day, told Sky Sports.

“My goal has been to try and create as much energy for this team … it was nice to get an opportunity today.

“I swung the ball most of the day which helped me with my control … the ball came out reasonably well.

“It [total] probably could have been a lot less than that if we had have held our chances … we certainly could have been better but we’ll definitely take 8-270 on that [pitch].”

Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to field in a decision that caught many by surprise.

Cummins beat Rory Burns (47) with two of the first three balls of the match and Hazlewood thought he had dismissed the left-hander in the fourth over, only for an lbw decision to be overturned on review.

Cummins then dismissed Joe Denly for 14, caught by Steve Smith at second slip, but not before England had posted the highest opening partnership of the series, a paltry 27.

Root and Burns then got to work and kept the scoreboard ticking over as Siddle in particular struggled for rhythm.

Root, who made 57, received his first life on 24, when Siddle dropped a sitter at deep square leg, and a diving Paine then spilled a chance to dismiss the England skipper on 25.

England got to lunch at 1-86 and it appeared it was Root’s day when he was dropped again in the first over of the second session, this time by Smith, on 30.

Australia finally held on to a catch when Burns skied a pull shot to Marsh off Hazlewood and Ben Stokes (20) gave the tourists more catching practice.

Lyon held onto the chance Stokes offered, off the bowling of Marsh, but England reached tea well-placed at 3-169 with Root joined at the crease by an ominous looking Jonny Bairstow (22).

It took a Cummins cracker to break the partnership, Root bowled by a similar delivery that undid him at Old Trafford as the Australia quick made the most of just a hint of seam movement.

Marsh then trapped Bairstow lbw with an inswinging yorker before adding the scalp of Sam Curran (15), who was given out lbw on seven only for replays to show Cummins had overstepped.

And Marsh was roaring in delight when another yorker produced an lbw, Chris Woakes sent packing for just two.

Jofra Archer (9) came and went quickly, too, but just when Australia seemed likely to bowl England out, Buttler and Jack Leach (10 not out) stepped up.

The pair added a valuable 45 runs, Buttler’s aggression at least giving the home fans something to cheer about.

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