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Buttler believes fifth Ashes Test is in the balance after brutal batting display

Buttler hit six boundaries and three handsome sixes on his way to 64 not out in a final score of 271 for eight.

Jos Buttler impressed with the bat on Thursday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Jos Buttler impressed with the bat on Thursday (Mike Egerton/PA)

By Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent

Jos Buttler attempted to hit England out of trouble on day one of the final Ashes Test and declared the series decider to be “in the balance” at stumps.

Tim Paine made the surprising decision of asking the hosts to bat first after winning the toss at The Oval and, when opposite number Joe Root was dropped three times, he would have wondered if it was a gamble too far.

But England lost for five for 56 in the evening session, including Root for 57, and would have been in dire straits were it not for a late onslaught from Buttler.

He hit six boundaries and three handsome sixes on his way to 64 not out in a final score of 271 for eight.

It was his first half-century of a difficult summer of Test cricket and helped keep England’s hopes of a 2-2 draw alive.

“Having lost the toss we got into a very good position and it’s a shame to not quite be able to capitalise on that,” said Buttler.

“Maybe it’s a little bit in the balance. There’s a bit in the wicket for both batters and bowlers and if you play well and apply yourself there are runs to be had.

“There’s not many times Australia bowl first so we were a little bit surprised – it showed there was a little bit of indecision with the way the wicket looked.”

England should really have done more to make that uncertainty count against Paine, and they were ultimately grateful for Buttler’s best performance of the campaign.

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Tim Paine put England in to bat at The Oval (Mike Egerton/PA)

With only the tail for company he was allowed to let his instincts take over and finally left his mark on the Australian attack.

“I’ve found batting hard this summer and it was nice to relax and have some fun,” he said.

“That style of batting comes quite naturally to me, I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to bat like that, so I enjoyed it. In the last couple of games I haven’t necessarily felt great at the crease but I’ve tried to scrap my way through it.”

Australia’s most successful bowler of the day was recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who took four for 35 to go from support man to star performer.

It was his first appearance in nine months having been dropped against India for carrying too much weight.

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PA Graphics

“I’ve worked my a*** off hoping to get another opportunity,” said the 27-year-old.

“I don’t necessarily eat that bad, I’m just a big eater. My mum likes feeding me! But there’s no secret JL (head coach Justin Langer) challenged me from a fitness perspective and over the last six months I have put everything I’ve had into it.

“I love playing for Australia, I just love it, and I want to keep doing it, so I’ll keep working hard.”

Reflecting on the way he divides opinion back home, Marsh cut straight to the point.

“Most of Australia hate me,” he said with a smile. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities at Test level and I haven’t quite nailed it but hopefully they can respect me for the fact I keep coming back and I can win them over one day.”

PA

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