Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Joe Root escapes twice to lead England’s fight as they look to draw the Ashes level | Cricket | Sport


Blundering Australia gave England a near perfect start to the fifth Test at The Oval – gifting England skipper Joe Root not one but two lives.

Tim Paine’s decision to put England in to bat looked a strange gamble at the toss and like a huge mistake at lunch.

But it could so easily have been a gamble that paid dividends had Peter Siddle or Paine himself then the captain himself held on to chances to dismiss Root.

Root, who has struggled for runs this series, was put down first by Siddle on 24 at deep backward square, and then a run later by Paine diving across David Warner at first slip, both chances off the bowling of Pat Cummins.

The blunders allowed England to make their best start of the series on a pitch which appeared to hold few demons as Rory Burns (42no) and Root (28no) reached lunch at 86-1.

Australia need to win or draw to become the first tourings side since 2001 to win the Ashes on English soil whereas a win for England could level the series.

Joe Denly was the only wicket to fall on the opening morning – departing after the openers had reached 27 – as Australia (Cummins aside) bowled with little penetration.

Siddle, in here for Mitchell Starc with Travis Head also making way for all-rounder Mitch Marsh, was guilty of a loose first spell which allowed England to get off to a flier by the series poor standards.

Both men had survived close lbw calls against Josh Hazlewood and Cummins early but Denly’s luck was to run out in the ninth over when he edged the ball to Smith at second slip.

Given Australia’s later slips the England opener might have felt a touch unlucky that Australia held it given Smith had to juggle the ball and only held on at the third attempt.



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