LONDON-Mitchell Starc has battled through shoulder pain to help have England all out for 283 after tea on day one of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.
After hurting his shoulder in Manchester last week and spending time off the field on Thursday, Starc finished with figures of 4-82 on a frantic day at The Oval. The left-armer’s wickets included the key scalps of Harry Brook for 85 and Ben Stokes for three, before picking up Stuart Broad (seven) and Chris Woakes (36) to wrap up the innings.
Australia will feel as if they are in a good position in the match after bowling England out in 54.4 overs, but their situation could have been far better had they held onto five separate dropped catches. The most costly of all was Alex Carey’s miss of Brook when on five, when Pat Cummins drew the right-hander’s outside edge. Carey went at the ball with one glove and put it down, but easily had the chance to get two hands to it. Australia’s wicketkeeper has had a fine series behind the stumps, but this could well prove a costly error given the way in which England’s other batters fell around him.
Brook made the most of his reprieve, driving neatly, pulling Mitch Marsh over midwicket for one six and hooking Cummins for another. Brook then looked on for his first century of the series, before Starc swung the match. After Brook drove a full and straight ball back past Starc for four, the left-armer went wider to Brook, drew his edge on the drive and had him caught at second slip by Steve Smith.
Starc’s ball to dismiss Stokes was his best. Angling the ball in at the left-hander, Starc was able to straighten the ball off the seam and take the England captain’s off stump. It was the second time Starc has removed Stokes with a fine delivery on this tour, after having him in the slips with one of the balls of the series at Lord’s.
Josh Hazlewood also claimed 2-54, bowling both Joe Root (five) and Jonny Bairstow (four) when they chopped on. And Cummins bowled far better than his figures of 1-66 suggest, removing Zak Crawley for 22, having Ben Duckett (41) and Brook dropped and beating bat seven times in his opening six-over spell.
Meanwhile, the main concern for England will be the fitness of Moeen Ali, who hurt his groin running between the wickets. He hit 34 in a 111-run stand with Brook, pulling out the long handle while injured before he was bowled by Todd Murphy (2-22).
But the bigger concern for England will be whether he is able to bowl, given his status as the sole frontline spinner in their side and the fact Stokes also can’t be used due to his knee.