‘Lack of respect’: Aussies’ shock move
The momentum swung several times on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test.
Honours remained relatively even as England went to stumps at 8/271 after being sent in to bat.
Here are all the talking points from the day's play.
'LACK OF RESPECT': AUSSIES' SHOCK MOVE
Plenty of pundits were questioning why Tim Paine took everyone by surprise and elected to bowl, but it didn't prove to be as big a blue as it could have been.
There were some clouds around early on and the pitch had a tinge of green about it, which may have convinced Paine to send England in. But once the sun came out and the surface flattened out, bowling became tough work.
Making Paine's decision even more surprising is his bowlers carried a heavy workload in Manchester, which is why the Aussies brought all-rounder Mitch Marsh into the XI, so he could ease some of the burden on the quicks with his medium-pacers.
Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were excellent in the first hour but the runs still flowed freely. Paine may have been regretting his choice when the hosts passed 100 just one wicket down but a familiar batting collapse ensured England didn't make the Aussies pay like it should have.
England captain Joe Root said he would have batted had the coin fallen his way while in commentary for Sky Sports, ex-England skipper Mike Atherton said the same.
Others shared that view while Australian great Mark Waugh suggested Paine's decision reflected a "lack of respect" of England's batting capabilities, because he expected to run through the hosts' brittle order.
Waugh also said it was important to wait until the end of a day to make a final judgment and we think far fewer people will be questioning Paine's call having restricted England to under 300 with just two wickets left in hand.
Probably showed a lack of respect for the England batting lineup. I think they thought they could knock them over with the way they’ve batted in the series.— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) September 12, 2019
CUMMINS COMMITS CARDINAL CRICKET SIN
In Manchester, Jack Leach dismissed Steve Smith on a no-ball and Pat Cummins was guilty of cricket's cardinal sin in London.
Two balls after being hooked over fine leg for six by Sam Curran, Cummins struck the all-rounder on the pad dead in front of his stumps and he was absolutely plumb, leaving the umpire in no doubt about raising his finger.
But as Curran walked off for seven, the third umpire checked for a possible no-ball and it was clear Cummins overstepped the line so the England star was given a reprieve.
The wicket would have reduced England to 6/186 but fortunately it didn't cost the Aussies too much, as Curran added just eight more runs to his tally before he was caught at second slip.
AUSSIES HAVE A CASE OF THE FUMBLES
Paine's decision to bowl first would not have attracted the attention it did had Australia held on to its catches as Root was dropped three times before he'd passed 30.
Peter Siddle dropped a sitter at fine leg when Root hooked Cummins straight to him, then two overs later Paine let Cummins down by shelling another chance.
An outside edge was going straight to David Warner at first slip but Paine flung an arm out in front of his teammate and tried to reel in a one-handed catch only to spill it.
After lunch Steve Smith made his first blunder of the series, unable to hold onto a difficult chance when he dived away to his right at second slip.
QUESTION MARKS OVER BOWLING ATTACK
Justin Langer had nothing but praise for Peter Siddle's work in the first two Tests but he won't be happy with what the seamer dished up when he was recalled to the team for the final Test of the series.
He beat out Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson for the final fast-bowling place but was well below his best. Siddle was far too short before lunch, delivering way too much loose stuff that was regularly punished by the batsmen.
The veteran didn't get as many wickets as the others at Headingley or Lord's but was vital in playing a holding role by keeping the scoring down. However, he couldn't replicate that on day one in London as he leaked runs, finishing with figures of 0/61 from 17 overs.
Shane Warne said Australia had made a mistake by leaving Starc and Pattinson out, considering it already had the medium pace of all-rounder Marsh at its disposal.
"They've missed a trick not having Starc or Pattinson," Warne said in commentary for Sky Sports. "I don't think you need Marsh and Siddle, two medium pacers, in the same side.
"Before lunch he was short, I've never seen Peter Siddle bowl so short."
ASHES HIGHLIGHT IS LAUGHABLE
In a sign of just how bad the top order batting has been by both sides this series, England openers Rory Burns and Joe Denly mustered together a mediocre partnership that represented a new high.
When the pair safely made it to 24 without loss, it represented the most successful opening stand of the summer. It would be laughable for English fans if their team hadn't already surrendered the urn.
On a good batting day at The Oval there would have been hope Burns and Denly could go on and salvage England's pride themselves but their partnership was broken just a few runs later when Denly had a brain fade.
With Denly on 14 and the total score at 0/27, Denly pushed at a wide ball from Cummins and edged to Steve Smith at second slip, who juggled the ball but took the catch at the third attempt.
Burns looked good as he eased his way to 47 but threw his wicket away after lunch with a half-hearted pull shot which he top edged.
ROOT REACHES A MILESTONE BUT FAILS TO KICK ON
Joe Root's had a grim summer both with the bat and as captain but he was doing his best to finish on a high note before he fell victim to a similar vice.
Root passed the 7000-run mark in Tests during his innings on day one, becoming the third-youngest player in history to achieve the feat at 28 years and 256 days, trailing only Alastair Cook and Sachin Tendulkar.
Having been dropped three times it looked like luck was going to be on the England captain's side but as has been the case so often throughout his career, he once again failed to turn a half century into a ton.
Root reached his fourth fifty of the series but was bowled for 57 by Cummins after tea as a first century of the summer remained out of reach.
Root was stuck on the crease trying to defend as Cummins' delivery angled in then straightened to hit off stump. It was almost identical to the way Cummins got Root out in the second innings at Old Trafford when he castled the skipper first ball late on day four.
Joe Root v Australia: 13 fifties, 3 centuries.— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) September 12, 2019
Conversion rate: 19%
Steve Smith v England: 8 fifties, 11 centuries.
Conversion rate: 58%#Ashes
Thankyou Australia for your delightful invitation to Bat first ....... #Ashes— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 12, 2019
Very surprised that the Australians have won the toss and elected to bowl first as I reckon the pitch will turn big time as they game goes on, so bat first would have been my choice - plus Siddle is playing instead of the big bull Pattinson mmmmmm. Let’s hope it works out.....— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) September 12, 2019