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Mitch Marsh Gives Critics Something To Think About On Day One Of Fifth Test

Mitch Marsh felt like a kid at Christmas after a career-best haul of 4-35, including the scalp of counterpart Ben Stokes, but England rallied to reach 8-271 at stumps on day one of the fifth Ashes Test.

Marsh, recalled alongside Peter Siddle at the Oval as Australia hunt their first Ashes series win in England since 2001, trudged off late on Thursday because of cramp.

It was the only thing that went wrong on a dominant Thursday for the West Australian, who returned to the field and the attack but couldn't snag his maiden five-wicket haul.

That milestone may yet come on Friday but Australia hope Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood end England's fightback before Marsh has a chance to shine.

Mitchell Marsh (centre) during day one of the fifth Test match at The Oval, London.

A counter-punch from Jos Buttler, who will resume on 64 after sharing an unbeaten 45-run stand with Jack Leach, delivered the latest twist on a topsy-turvy day that started with Paine surprising Ricky Ponting and many others by opting to bowl.

Joe Root failed to make the most of dropped catches on 24, 25 and 30; falling to Cummins for 57 as Marsh made amends for his teammates' sloppiness.

"In the past my role has been to hold an end. JL (coach Justin Langer) came up to me before the start of play and at lunchtime," Marsh revealed.

"And said 'go for it, attack, bowl the way you want to bowl'. I was a little bit, not shocked, but it gave me great confidence to go out there and give everything I had.

"Maybe a change of mentality allowed me to attack a bit more. It was fun."

The allrounder replaced Travis Head in the XI that retained the urn in Manchester to offer the pace attack some relief, with Paine noting Marsh had "worked his backside off" and was "aspiring to" match Stokes' work ethic.

"I was like a kid at Christmas," Marsh said.

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Marsh confirmed his inability to complete a 16th over was nothing serious.

"I had a fair bit of adrenaline running through me and was cramping in both hammies and both calves. A little bit embarrassing, but it's all good," he said.

Marsh did far more than hold up an end, igniting a collapse of 5-75 when a mistimed pull shot from Stokes somehow resulted in a skied catch for Nathan Lyon at point.

The 27-year-old, who generated impressive swing in his first outing for Australia since last year's Boxing Day Test, then removed Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes to snare 3-17 in an eight-over spell after tea.

Australia's Steve Smith (right) chats to England's Jack Leach at the end of play. Photo: AAP

Buttler, who slapped three sixes and six fours, feels the Test remains in the balance.

"Having lost the toss we got into a very good position at 170-odd for three. It's a shame to not quite be able to capitalise on that," he said.

"It shows there's a bit in the wicket for both batters and bowlers. "

Root's trend of failing to convert half-centuries into hundreds continued when Cummins produced a sensational delivery, similar to the jaffa that uprooted the same batsman's off stump at Old Trafford.