The Ashes: Fifth Test, Day One

With the series already won by England and the urn set to return home once again, the fifth test of the series at the Kia Oval was predicted by some to be somewhat dull and bland and just a prelude to the celebrations at the end of the match when Alastair Cook will lift the replica urn high above his head as he is showered in champagne by the rest of the squad, but after the announcements in the week about Chris Rogers and Michael Clarke finally retiring from international, as well as James Anderson not being 100% fit himself, this left a feel of mystery in the air around the traditional final test match.

Cook won the toss and had no hesitation in taking the ball first, undoubtedly hoping for a repeat of the 60 all-out that happened ten days prior in the previous test. Chris Rogers walked out to a warm applause from the London crowd, on his (more than likely) penultimate innings for the baggy green, whereas David Warner got his usual round of boo’s as the pantomime villain to the public. Rogers and Warner both started unadventurously being very careful not to prod and poke at any wide deliveries, meaning the morning brought no breakthrough for the bowlers and Australia were without loss at lunch.  The steady pace was kept up after lunch, but just after the hundred was brought up, Mark Wood managed to bounce out Chris Rogers only after a juggle from Captain Cook at first slip. This loss didn’t stop Warner who continued to make progress in what has been a rather average series for the usual mercurial left-hander, although after all the hard work he was un-done by a spinning Moeen Ali off-break, much to his disgust.

The scene of the day came from the England team who gave Michael Clarke a Guard of Honour, on his last appearance for Australia, as he walked onto the square. Clarke met Steve Smith in the middle and both men continued to push on a solid opening stand and build a big score. Clarke had looked better than in previous tests, but came unstuck, getting a feint little edge on a ball that climbed off the pitch from Ben Stokes. The Aussie skipper reviewed the decision, probably hoping for a miraculously lifeline, but HotSpot and Snicko both helped back the on-field decision. Clarke’s future replacement, Steve Smith, continued on battling hard and ground out a solid half-century as he tried to reiterate the class he showed at Lords earlier in the series.

Smith and Voges then played out the rest of the day, in between short rain breaks, to reach the close of play 287 for 3, on 78 and 47 respectively.  There will be hope for England tomorrow morning with a new ball due after two deliveries, due to a shortened over because of fading light on a murky first day of the fifth Test at the Kia Oval.