London: History will have to be hard-earned if England are to win four home Ashes Tests for the first time after Australia dug in effectively on Day One at The Oval.

David Warner en route his 85 yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
David Warner en route his 85 yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Australia's new guard of captain and vice-captain in waiting, Steve Smith (78 not out) and David Warner (85), were most successful as the tourists sought to put behind them the miserable performance with which they lost the urn at Trent Bridge.

There, they were bowled out for 60 in under 19 overs to put themselves in an impossible position almost from the outset. Here, doubtless chastened by that experience, Warner and his opening partner Chris Rogers soon ensured no repeat of the Nottingham calamity in a century stand which underpinned a stumps total of 287 for three in this fifth Test.

Smith then took over in another hundred partnership, unbroken with Adam Voges, as Australia negotiated awkward conditions under heavy cloud cover throughout and on a pitch with pace and occasional sideways movement. There was to be no gratifying contribution, however, for Australia captain Michael Clarke, who will retire after this match.

He could muster only 15 runs before a faint edge behind off Ben Stokes, confirmed by a 'Snicko' flicker on DRS, left him to ponder the prospect of one more innings with which to achieve a fitting farewell. Warner had a century in his sights until he pushed forward and edged Moeen Ali to slip in mid-afternoon, bringing Clarke to the crease.