Shane Watson’s maiden Ashes century – and first Test century in three years – has put Australia in a dominant position on day one of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.
Australia closed on 307/4 and are now 5/4 to win their first match of the series, while England are 4/1 to pull off an unlikely victory. The draw can be taken at 5/4.
England handed a debut to Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan, who was given a baptism of fire by a pugnacious Watson. The Aussie dispatched the 24-year-old for 28 runs from his opening two-over spell, registering his century off just 114 deliveries. He eventually departed for 176 – his best effort in Test cricket by a distance.
Chris Woakes was also handed a first Test start, and proved similarly unthreatening with the ball; on this evidence it would be a surprise if the pair earned a starting spot in the return series Down Under.
Alistair Cook had the opportunity to send Watson back to the clubhouse on 104, but dropped a straightforward catch at first slip off Jimmy Anderson.
The latter marked his return to form with two wickets and some characteristically economical bowling, the highlight being his removal of Michael Clarke’s off stump for the second time in the series, the ball coming back in to bemuse the Aussie skipper.
At that point the Test appeared finely balanced, but Steve Smith proved a reliable foil for Watson, registering his half-century off 113 balls. He ended the day unbeaten on 66.
Woakes had Watson given out lbw on 166, but the decision was overturned after Hawk-Eye showed it was comfortably clearing the bails.
The new ball bought the odd bit of movement for England, though it was Kevin Pietersen’s catch at deep backward square that ultimately removed the Australian number three – Broad’s first wicket of the day.
The Aussies responded by moving Peter Siddle up the order to try and negate the impact of the new ball, a task he managed with aplomb. His 18 from 15 deliveries fortified the tourists’ commanding position ahead of day two.
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