Watson century gives Aussies advantage

Australia

Australia batsman Shane Watson finally broke his Test century drought, after 25 Tests without a triple figure score, by making a career-best 176 on day one of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

Australia batsman Shane Watson finally broke his Test century drought, after 25 Tests without a triple figure score, by making a career-best 176 on day one of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

Watson, whose previous best was 126, had only scored a ton twice before in Tests, and this time his efforts made sure Australia reached stumps on 307 for four, while Steve Smith contributed with a handy 66 not out.

England started well after losing the toss, removing David Warner for just six runs early in the day. He played away from his body to a James Anderson delivery, and thus caught an outside edge and was bagged by Matt Prior behind the stumps.

This brought Watson to the crease to join his former opening partner, Chris Rogers. The pair went on to make 101 runs together in 24 overs before lunch, with Watson scoring 80 of those runs in just 76 balls.

Debutant spinner Simon Kerrigan only managed to bowl two overs in his first spell, going for a hefty 28 runs, of which 24 came off boundaries to Watson. The all-rounder also took six fours off other debutant Chris Woakes, who sent down five overs for 30 runs.

Rogers, meanwhile, was more than circumspect, making just 21 runs in the morning session, and using up 87 balls. As has been the case throughout the Ashes, he seemed content to play the anchoring role for Watson, giving pep talks at the end of each over.

The afternoon session was slightly better for England, giving away 71 runs and taking two wickets. The first of those was Rogers, whose patience turned out to be a stifling situation, and he was caught on 23 by Jonathan Trott in the slips, off Graeme Swann.

Skipper Michael Clarke was then only able to add seven runs to the score, before being bowled by Anderson. The ball deflected off the top of his pad onto off stump, leaving Smith to see Watson to his century off 114 balls.

Watson was handed a lifeline just past his century, when he was dropped by Alastair Cook in the slips, off Anderson. It wasn't a particularly difficult chance, and Watto took full advantage, overtaking his previous best score of 126.

In the evening session, Watson was again fortunate, and this time managed to use DRS correctly. Infamous for reviewing every LBW against him, he got it right this time as the ball was going over the top of the stumps, his score on 166.

While Watson marched on to his highest score, Smith did equally well at the other end and recorded yet another half century on the tour. Aside from Clarke, Smith has the most fifties for Australia this year, and he reached this one off 113 balls.

Watson's vigil was not quite able to last till stumps, as he was out three overs before the end of play. He'd made 176 off 247 balls, including 25 fours, before holing out to Kevin Pietersen at deep square leg, off Stuart Broad's bowling.

Peter Siddle came in as night watchman, and he and Smith took the visitors to the close, adding 18 runs in the final three overs to push the score past 300 for the day.

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