The maligned Marsh was the unlikely star for the visitors, capturing the wicket of Ben Stokes among his career-best haul of four, as England’s good work from early in the day was undone in the afternoon sessions.
After being 1-103 shortly after lunch, England lost a steady stream of wickets before Buttler freed up his arms late in the day, crashing an unbeaten 64 which allowed them to reach 8-271 at stumps on the first day.
“If we took our chances in the first session, today could have been a lot different. I thought the way we fought back was awesome,” Marsh said.
Spinner Nathan Lyon, who is nursing a cut to his spinning finger, bowled just four overs, and was overlooked for part-time leggie Marnus Labuschagne late in the day when Paine wanted a change up in the final overs before the second new ball.
England had expected to bat first. “There’s not many times Australia bowl first. We were a little bit surprised but it showed there was a little bit of indecision just with the way the wicket looked,” Buttler said.
“It’s not quite how an Oval wicket would look 10 years ago when you’d turn up and know you’d bat.
“It’s actually been a pretty good cricket wicket.”
The catalyst for the turnaround was Marsh, who swung the ball the most of the Australian seamers. One of the most maligned cricketers in the country, Marsh gave his critics something to think about with his finest day with the ball. His figures of 4-35 are his career-best.
His spell after tea changed the complexion of the day with the wickets of dangerous trio Jonny Bairstow, childhood friend Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.
The all-rounder swung the ball both ways, which left his victims guessing. His set up of Bairstow was full of nous. Marsh had been drawing Bairstow forward with outswingers then slammed in a yorker, which ducked the other way. With his footwork set up for the ball going away from him, Bairstow was out of position to play the ball.
Stokes, however, was his most important wicket, removed for 20 after picking the wrong length to pull.
As a No.6, Marsh’s primary role in the game is with the bat but he has gone above and beyond in his role with the ball.
Though he cramped late and was forced from the field, to the mirth of his appreciative teammates, Marsh showed the benefits of an off-season spent training with AFL club West Coast.
His pace was up into the mid 130km/h for much of the day, about 10km/h faster than recent years when he has been troubled by shoulder issues.
England’s best part of the day came when Rory Burns and Root were at the crease. With the ball not swinging, neither man looked trouble.
The normally reliable Siddle was unable to maintain his accuracy though Root played his part in scrambling the seamer’s radar by not allowing the bowler to dictate the tempo.
Root, coming off a duck in his last innings, found confidence with two early boundaries against the Victorian.
Already having a trying time with the ball, Siddle made things worse for himself when he put down a regulation chance at fine leg to a pull shot off Cummins when Root was on 24.
There was more frustration for Cummins in his following over after Paine, going with his right glove, reacted late to one that was heading straight to David Warner at first slip.
Siddle found Root’s outside edge the first over after lunch but Smith, at second slip, could not hold on diving to his right.
Cummins took the fielder out of play by bowling Root with a delivery similar to the pearler he produced in the second innings at Old Trafford.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald