David Warner scored 85 as Australia took a grip of the fifth Ashes Test after day one against England at The Oval. The tourists closed on 287 for 3 after being put in by Alastair Cook as their batsman belatedly produced an authoritative performance in the series.
Steven Smith finished unbeaten on 78 at the close, while captain Michael Clarke (15) was given a guard of honour before being dismissed by Ben Stokes in what could be his final international innings. Chris Rogers also on his last Test appearance made a dogged 43.
Though Clarke failed again with the bat, the remainder of his team paid their own tribute to their departing captain with an impressive start to a Test which they could have been forgiven for rolling over in, to leave Cook regretting inserting Australia after winning the toss on the opening morning. Chances for England were few and far between, with mistimed strokes often falling short of the slip cordon and fielders in catching positions on a day of frustration where their efforts were not rewarded with wickets.
With Cook's side chasing to win four Tests against Australia in a home Ashes series for the first time, and the tourists hoping to prevent their heaviest series defeat to their arch rivals for 36 years, much remained on the line despite England having reclaimed the urn with a match to spare at Trent Bridge. The historic subtext was enhanced by the Test marking the end of Clarke and Rogers's international careers, while a host of Australia players were also facing uncertain futures after the unceremonious nature in which they relinquished the Ashes.
While the hosts refrained from giving Adil Rashid a debut ahead of the tour to the United Arab Emirates to face Pakistan as they need an unchanged team again without James Anderson, Australia made two changes with Josh Hazlewood making way for Peter Siddle - as Pat Cummins missed out - and Mitchell Marsh returning in place of brother Shaun. It would give Australia renewed balance and control which they lacked with dramatic consequences in Nottingham.
Aiming to pray on a fragile batting order that crumbled in the fourth Test, England inserted Australia after winning the toss amid overcast conditions and with the pitch possessing a green tinge, hoping to repeat the success of last summer when they dismissed India for 148 in Vauxhall. But in practice, the move appeared folly as Australia showed the type of temperament which they were devoid of earlier in the summer and brought a sense of normality to an at times frenetic series.
Openers Warner and Rogers began in watchful fashion, leaving Stuart Broad and Mark Wood outside off-stump without much alarm, before in the second hour of the morning session they went on the attack. Supporters who had initially turned up expecting an England procession, had to wait until the 15th over for the first boundary with the home side showing few signs of engineering a breakthrough.
Warner went to his half century in 76 balls with a fine cover drive, one of few in the first session, and Australia reached lunch on 82 without loss. The openers went to their century partnership before the first wicket tumbled as Wood found the edge of Rogers, which Cook grabbed at the second attempt in the slips.
Australia continued to control proceedings on a benign surface but Warner was unable to take full advantage of England being on the back foot as he was dismissed 15 runs short of his century, edging Moeen Ali to Adam Lyth. The wicket brought the retiring Clarke to the crease, with the England team giving the Aussie captain a guard of honour in what could be his final innings; however that would be where the pleasantries would end.
Clarke made just 15 before his meagre form continued when he thick edged Stokes behind to Jos Buttler, with his time at the crease only prolonged by a wasteful review as video replays highlighted the edge. Australia went past 250 before the south London light faded and the inclement weather brought a temporary halt to play.
When play did resume, England's desperation was emphasised when they reviewed a not out lbw decision against Smith, who was now looking comfortable alongside Adam Voges (47 not out) with the pair having put on the second century partnership of the day, which was darting down leg-side. It was the final glimmer of hope for England on a day where Australia showed what could have been during the series with their most complete performance of the summer.