LONDON – Rory Burns and Joe Root took advantage of a lacklustre display by Australia to lift England to 86 for one at lunch on the first day of the fifth and final Ashes test at The Oval on Thursday.
The hosts lost the wicket of Joe Denly but Australia, who have retained the Ashes, failed to take advantage of favourable bowling conditions after winning the toss and spilled two catches as they bid to seal a 3-1 series victory.
Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowled tidy opening spells but the touring side's vaunted pace attack lacked the consistent threat which has caused problems for England's fragile top order throughout the series.
Denly, on 14, played a loose stroke at a widish delivery from Cummins and edged to second slip where Steve Smith fumbled the chance before grabbing the ball before it hit the ground.
The opening partnership of 27 was the highest of the series but it was another failure for the 33-year-old Denly, who made battling fifties in the last two tests without staking a claim to a long-term place in the team.