Ashes 2019: England disappoint despite Root, Buttler half-centuries and strong start as Marsh takes four

Missed opportunities cost England again on day one of the final Ashes Test of the summer.

After Australia won the toss and made the peculiar decision to bowl first, the longest opening partnership of the series took hold as England put on 27 for the first wicket.

Joe Root, under fire for failure to win the series, made another half-century after being dropped on three separate occasions.

In the end his partially streaky knock proved fruitless as no other batsman, aside from Rory Burns, offered much as England fell from 103-1 to 205-7.

Jos Buttler’s late counter-attacking 64 not out propelled his side towards 300 to salvage a decent first innings total, but it was another case of what might have been for the hosts.

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Marsh took career best figures of 4-35 on the opening day. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

In what has proven a recurring issue in a frustrating second half of the summer, England’s batting flaws were exposed by a strong Australian pace attack.

But it had all started promisingly after Tim Paine opted to let England bowl first.

Burns, one of the silver linings of this summer, was given out LBW early - a decision which was overturned on review.

And the first signs of an odd morning showed when Joe Denly (14 runs) was caught at slip by Steve Smith - after fumbling the ball twice.

Root entered the field and on the whole looked assured - but he was handed three opportunities to make a big score and only contrived to reach 57.

The first, a hook, saw Peter Siddle drop the England captain in the deep. The second saw Paine push the ball away from first slip.

Both came before the lunch break, which England reached just one down as Australia began to rue their choice.

When Root was put down a third time shortly after lunch, there was a feeling it was finally his day.

Indeed, it was home batsman Burns who was next to depart. The steady opener was on 47 when he was caught miscuing a shot off Josh Hazlewood.

At that moment, England had just crossed the hundred mark, were just two wickets down and looking good to make the visitors pay.

Australia had struck at crucial times in this series and Ben Stokes’ (20) stay at the crease ended in horrific fashion as the Headingley hero attempted to pull Mitchell Marsh into the on side, only to top edge into the off.

That left England 130-3 but, as it had been this series, things might have been worse, and the captain checked off his 50 shortly after as they made it to the tea break at 169-3.

Pat Cummins beat Joe Root's defences in consecutive innings after his first ball dismissal at Old Trafford. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

It was shortly after when things took a drastic turn for the worst. Cummins, as he did in Manchester, castled Root to take the poor Australian fielding out of the equation.

And it was then, on an odd day, when Marsh made his real impact after being left out of the first four Tests.

He trapped Bairstow (22) at the crease with a fine yorker, before he took Sam Curran’s edge (15) and dismissed Woakes (2) with another swinging yorker to leave England 205-7.

Curran’s wicket will have equally disappointed the hosts as encouraged the visitors, with the Surrey man taking the attack to Australia - and handed a reprieve after Cummins dismissed him off a no ball.

Jofra Archer and Buttler moved the game on briefly - with the latter scoring crucial runs - before the bowler was dismissed for just nine runs.

With two wickets remaining, Buttler channelled the spirit of Stokes to pummel Hazlewood for consecutive sixes in an attempt to bolster their score.

Another ferocious swing of the World Cup winner’s bat brought up his 50 with another six off Hazlewood, who starred in the previous three Tests.

And Butler’s counter-attack helped England survive the day as the hosts finished with 271-8.

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