Australia's Steve Smith, David Warner star in Ashes finale
Australia's future leadership team of Steve Smith and David Warner helped restore some pride for the tourists against England on Thursday's first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.cricket Updated: Aug 21, 2015 18:13 IST
Australia's future leadership team of Steve Smith and David Warner helped restore some pride for the tourists against England on Thursday's first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.
When bad flight forced an early close, Australia, who had lost the toss, were 287 for three - a marked contrast to their 60 all out in the first innings of their series-losing defeat in the fourth Test at Nottingham's Trent Bridge.
Smith, who will take over as Australia's Test captain when Michael Clarke retires following this match, was 78 not out after future vice-captain Warner had made 85.
Adam Voges was 47 not out, having helped Smith add an unbroken 101 for the fourth wicket.
A green-tinged pitch and overcast skies were reminiscent of conditions at Trent Bridge a fortnight ago where Stuart Broad took a devastating eight for 15 as Australia, likewise sent into bat by England captain Alastair Cook, collapsed in stunning style.
England went on to win by an innings and 78 runs, a victory that saw them regain the Ashes and take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
But Thursday saw Chris Rogers, also retiring from international duty after this match, and fellow left-handed opener Warner put on 110 for the first wicket as Australia proved they could bat responsibly in typically English conditions.
"It was very good day for us, a good toss to lose" Warner told Sky Sports.
"We knew it was going to be tough conditions, for us it was about leaving and respecting good deliveries.
"Me and Chris left well which put us in a great position."
Warner added: "To come out and show what we're made of was fantastic from our top order."
England all-rounder Ben Stokes said his side had been unlucky, telling BBC Radio: "We thought the pitch might have had more pace, but as a whole we bowled pretty well and might have had them five or six down on another day.
"Australia batted the best since they've batted since Lord's (where they won the second Test by 405 runs), but we put the balls in the areas we wanted to."
Broad was fractionally too wide early on against batsmen determined not to 'chase' the ball after their Nottingham nightmare.
The first hour's play saw Australia 19 without loss in 14 overs, compared to 38 for seven in 11 in 60 minutes at Trent Bridge.
Australia's first boundary, after some inevitale playing and missing, did not arrive until the 15th over when the normally aggressive Warner pulled Stokes through square leg.
An increasingly assured Warner, gaining from time in the middle, went to a 76-ball fifty when he cover-drove fast bowler Steven Finn for his seventh four.
England eventually separated the pair after lunch when Rogers pushed away from his body against fast bowler Mark Wood and first slip Cook held the outside edge at the second attempt.
Warner, in sight of what would have been his first Test hundred in England, fell when he pushed forward to off-spinner Moeen Ali and was caught at slip by Adam Lyth, the opener swishing his bat in annoyance.
New batsman Clarke walked out to a standing ovation from the crowd as England's players formed a guard of honour in the middle for the Australia captain.
"It's something we discussed, you've got to pay respect to someone who's played as well as he has, so it was a no-brainer," said Stokes.
But the rousing reception did nothing to lift Clarke, one of Australia's greatest batsmen, out of his prolonged run drought.
Clarke exited for 15 when he edged a Stokes ball that seamed off the pitch to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler.
The captain consulted non-striker Smith and sought a review but there was no denying that Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena had made the correct decision.
Smith, returning to form after his 215 and 58 at Lord's were followed by four single-figure scores in the next two Tests, cover-drove Stokes for his sixth four to complete an 84-ball fifty.
He then went down the pitch to drive Ali for a skimming six over mid-off.
England fielded an unchanged team after all-time leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson was again ruled out with the side injury that saw him miss the fourth Test.
Australia, however, recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh after dropping his brother Shaun, a top-order batsman, while fast bowler Peter Siddle was selected for his first Test of the series in place of the injured Josh Hazlewood.
First Published: Aug 21, 2015 18:05 IST