Marsh, Cummins strike down Poms after false start
MITCH Marsh turned swing king and inspired a last-session Australian resurgence in the final Ashes Test at The Oval as England bombed a golden chance to take total control of the game.
Three wickets in a highly impressive display of precision bowling from the all-rounder after tea ripped the heart out of England's middle order on a day which looked the home team's for the taking.
It came after a first session of sloppiness from the Australians, including two dropped catches, following a questionable call from captain Tim Paine to bowl after he won the toss, a decision which threatened to undo all the momentum they carried to London from the fourth Test victory in Manchester.
It took some lusty late hitting from Jos Buttler, including three sixes as he went in to one-day mode, to keep his team alive and he was not out 64 at stumps with his team 8-271.
"If we took our chances in the first session, today could have been a lot different," Marsh said.
"I thought the way we fought back was awesome. I was glad I was able to chip in and bowl a few overs, but I thought we had a good day."
The result could have been worse for the home team as Marsh defied the critics who lashed out at his inclusion, at the expense of vice-captain Travis Head, and hooped the Dukes ball around unlike any Australian had for the series.
He set up batsmen by moving the ball both ways and finished with career-best figures of 4-35, after having to leave the field with cramp in his hamstring, one ball into his 15th over.
But it was Marsh's eight-over spell after tea which turned the game back Australia's way.
Playing his first Test for the series, the 27-year-old snared 3-17 removing danger man Ben Stokes first before getting both Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes with inswinging yorkers, a ball no Australian has been able to bowl all series, which trapped them LBW.
His golden run came after ironman Pat Cummins bowled Joe Root for 57, in his 16th over of the day, as the English captain once again failed to convert an Ashes half-century into three figures.
Root has not scored a hundred the past nine times he has made 50 or more against Australia.
Cummins, who removed Joe Denly in the first session, Australia's only wicket before lunch, should have had Root earlier if not for a dropped catch in the deep by Peter Siddle.
It was one of three chances the Australian's gave to the England captain in a sloppy early fielding effort which raised questions about their focus for the final Test having already secured the Ashes in Manchester.
England marched comfortably to 1-103 on a wicket which looked tailor-made for batting, giving rise to criticism over Australian captain Tm Paine's decision to put them in after winning the toss.
In the 2015 Ashes Test at The Oval England did the same thing and were punished as Australia pounded out 481, including a century from Steve Smith, before bowling the home team out twice to romp to victory.
History looked like it might repeat before a lunch time re-set from coach Justin Langer.
Six overs after the break Josh Hazlewood had Rory Burns out, top-edging an attempted hook shot, which led to Marsh getting Stokes the same way as England gave-up all their early advantage.
Cummins took 2-73 and Hazlewood 2-76 to add to their series tally, but veteran Peter Siddle had a day to forget, dropping Root and then going for 61 runs from his 17 overs after being picked ahead of Mitchell Starc.
Spinner Nathan Lyon only bowled four overs with doubts lingering about his fitness after he suffered a split to his spinning finger in the fourth Test.