London, Aug 21: Mitchell Marsh took his best figures in Test cricket as Australia's push for a consolation win in the Ashes finale saw England suffer a severe collapse at The Oval today.
At stumps on the second day of the fifth Test, England had slumped to 107 for eight in reply to Australia's first innings 481 - a deficit of 374 runs.
All-rounder Marsh, recalled in place of older brother Shaun, a specialist batsman, took three wickets for 18 runs in seven overs - surpassing his two for 23 in Australia's 405-run win in the second Test at Lord's.
Meanwhile fast-medium bowler Peter Siddle, playing his first Test since facing India at Adelaide in December after Josh Hazlewood was ruled out through injury, had two for 18 in 10.
England, with Moeen Ali and Mark Wood both eight not out, still needed a further 175 runs to avoid the follow-on, with just two wickets standing.
Fortunately for England they were already 3-1 up in the five-match series and this top order implosion was not as bad as Australia's 60 all out in the first innings of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge - where Stuart Broad's return of eight for 15 laid the platform for an innings and 78 run-win that saw England regain the Ashes.
But there was no denying Australia's dominance with both bat and ball so far in this match after captain-in-waiting Steven Smith had scored 143 earlier today.
England's reply suffered an early setback when skipper Alastair Cook was bowled for 22 on the stroke of tea by a fine delivery from off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Bowling from round the wicket, Lyon got the ball to pitch on middle-and-leg before it turned past left-hander Cook's outside edge to clip off stump.
Adam Lyth desperately needed a big innings to cement his place after a run of low scores. But on 19 he donated his wicket when, off Siddle's second-ball loosener, the left-hander pulled to Mitchell Starc, running round from mid-on.
Root, Lyth's fellow Yorkshireman, who had scored two hundreds this series, once again walked out with England in trouble. He responded by upper-cutting his first ball, from Siddle, over the slips for four.
But Siddle - whose selection had been slammed as a "panic" measure by Australia great Shane Warne - struck again when a superb ball clipped the top of off stump to bowl Ian Bell for 10.
England's 60 for three became 64 for four when Root, unable to perform his usual rescue act, was caught behind off the lively Marsh for six.
Jonny Bairstow (13) was caught in the deep after carelessly failing to get over the top of an attempted pull off Mitchell Johnson, while Jos Buttler (one) was bowled through the gate by Lyon.
England's position demanded resolute defiance but all-rounder Ben Stokes (15) made a present of his wicket when a miscued hoick off Marsh provided wicket-keeper Peter Nevill with a simple catch.
Broad was then well caught at first slip by Adam Voges for a duck in the same over. England were now 92 for eight, with Marsh having taken three wickets for four runs in 15 balls.
And but for a replay checked no-all he would have dismissed Wood as well. Earlier, the 26-year-old Smith, set to succeed Michael Clarke as captain when the Australia skipper retires after this match, struck his second century this Ashes after a career-best 215 at Lord's.
Yesterday's innings saw Smith become the first Australian since Matthew Elliott in 1997 to score more than 500 runs in an Ashes series in England. Smith received good support in stands of 146 and 91 with Voges (76) and Starc (58) for the fourth and eighth wickets respectively.
His six-and-a-half-hour innings, which included 17 fours and two sixes, eventually ended when he dragged an intended drive off fast bowler Steven Finn onto his stumps.