LONDON – England's batting frailties were exposed again as they wasted a solid start and laboured to 271 for eight on the first day of the final Ashes test against Australia at The Oval on Thursday.
The Australians, who have retained the Ashes, dropped England captain Joe Root three times as he made 57 but the hosts failed to take full advantage and only Jos Buttler's late unbeaten 64 saved them from complete collapse.
Medium-pacer Mitchell Marsh took four wickets to boost Australia's bid to secure a 3-1 series win after their captain Tim Paine won the toss and surprisingly sent England in to bat.
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.
Joe Denly, on 14, played a loose stroke at a wideish delivery from Cummins and edged to second slip where Steve Smith fumbled the chance before grabbing the ball before it hit the ground.