Brook falls short of ton as Australia spark England collapse

LONDON: Harry Brook fell short of a century as Australia sparked an England collapse on the opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval on Thursday.

England were 250-7 at tea, having lost four wickets for 28 runs after reaching 184-3. Brook was dismissed for 85 after he had come in with England struggling at 73-3 in a match they must win to deny Australia an outright series win.

The tourists, 2-1 up following last week´s rain-marred draw at Old Trafford, have already retained the Ashes.

Brook rebuilt the innings during a stand of 111 with Moeen Ali (34) that featured a blizzard of boundaries typifying England´s aggressive ´Bazball´ approach to Test cricket.

He hooked left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc for six and Moeen twice hoisted Australia captain Pat Cummins high over the boundary rope.

When off-spinner Todd Murphy, in for all-rounder Cameron Green, dropped short with his second ball, Moeen, struggling with a leg injury, pulled him for four.

But he was bowled the next delivery, aiming across the line, starting a clatter of wickets that emboldened an Australia side bidding for a first Ashes series win in England since 2001.

Stokes was then bowled for just three by a full-length Starc delivery that kept low and Jonny Bairstow, fresh from his stunning 99 not out in Manchester, flat-footedly played on to Josh Hazlewood for four.

Brook then fell in sight of what would have been his fifth Test century and first against Australia, when an edged drive off Starc was caught by Steve Smith at second slip to end a dashing 91-ball innings featuring 11 fours and two sixes.

Earlier, Cummins won his first toss of the series and opted to field in overcast conditions that promised to assist the fast bowler and his fellow quicks.

Having outfielded England for much of the series, Australia dropped three catches in a morning session during which the hosts were well-placed at 62-0.

Australia, however, managed to reduce England to 73-3 either side of the drinks break.

Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett ensured England made a rapid start, scoring at a rate of six an over.

Duckett should have been out for 30 when he slashed at first-change Cummins´s opening delivery, only for David Warner to drop a head-high chance in the slips.

Next over, Crawley, who made a dazzling 189 in Manchester, was on 11 when a diving Steve Smith failed to hold a much harder slip chance off all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

Fortunately for Australia, the errors were not too costly, Duckett fell for a run-a-ball 41, caught behind down the legside off Marsh.

Crawley, the leading run-scorer in the series, was dismissed for 22 by a superb Cummins delivery that the batter could only edge straight to Smith.

Joe Root was out for just five, playing on to an off-cutter from Hazlewood.

Australia should have had a fourth wicket when Brook, on five, edged Cummins, only for diving wicketkeeper Alex Carey to drop a one-handed chance.

Australia won the toss

England 1st Innings

Crawley c Smith b Cummins 22

Duckett c Carey b Marsh 41

Ali b Murphy 34

Root b Hazlewood 5

Brook c Smith b Starc 85

Stokes (c) b Starc 3

Bairstow b Hazlewood 4

Woakes not out 25

Wood b Murphy 28

Broad c Head b Starc 7

James Anderson not out 0

Extras: (b 9, lb 7, nb 2) 18

Total: 53.1 Ov (RR: 5.11) 272/9

Fall of wickets: 1-62, 2-66, 3-73, 4-184, 5-193, 6-208, 7-212, 8-261, 9-270

Bowling: Mitchell Starc 14-1-72-3, Josh Hazlewood 13-0-54-2, Pat Cummins 13-2-66-1, Mitchell Marsh 8-0-43-1, Todd Murphy 5.1-0-21-2

Australia Team: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Todd Murphy, Josh Hazlewood

Umpires: Joel Wilson, Kumar Dharmasena

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