TEENAGE debutant Ashton Agar hailed the second day of the first Ashes Test as the “best day of my life” after hitting a record-breaking innings of 98 to put Australia on the front foot against England at Trent Bridge.
The tourists resumed yesterday morning on 75-4, but quickly slipped to 117-9 as seamer James Anderson (5-85) tore through the middle order.
However, the highest-ever last wicket stand in Test cricket followed, as Phil Hughes (81 not out) was sensationally supported by Agar who struck 98 runs off 101 balls – the best ever score by a No11 batsman – before falling agonisingly short of his century off the bowling off Stuart Broad, himself struggling with a bruised arm.
However, nothing could spoil the 19-year-old’s day.
“It’s been a great day, it’s probably the best day so far in my life,” he said.
“It was good fun, exciting and I enjoyed it. I have always tried to play freely and naturally and I don’t really get too nervous. There are a lot of people who would love to be doing what I’m doing.
“I didn’t really think I’d come out and make 98, so to have that happen on my first day is fantastic.
“It was good to get the team out of a bit of a sticky situation and get a bit of a lead.”
England’s second innings got off to a controversial start when, after opener Joe Root (5) edged a Mitchell Starc delivery to Brad Haddin behind the stumps, Jonathan Trott was out for a golden duck, lbw, the very next ball.
On-field umpire Aleem Dar dismissed Australia’s enthusiastic appeal but, following a review, third umpire Marais Erasmus over-ruled the original decision, despite being unable to use the technology, HotSpot, which clearly showed evidence of an inside-edge.
England closed on 80-2, leading by 15 runs as Alastair Cook (37) and Kevin Pietersen (35) steadied the ship, but Anderson admitted his side were still aggrieved about Trott’s wicket.
“Trotty hit the ball and was given not out on the field, I’m not quite sure what went on after that. It’s pretty disappointing really,” he said. “He did hit it. It is frustrating that it got overturned.
“We’re all for technology, because since it’s come in more decisions are given out correctly than wrongly.
“From our point of view we want it, whatever has gone on provides a couple of talking points, but on the whole we’re happy to have it.”
WHO IS ASHTON AGAR?
How good is he?
■ Picked by Australia as their only specialist spin bowler in this Test, but the tall left-armer is pretty handy with the bat too. Ashton Agar had only played in 10 first class matches before making his debut at Trent Bridge, but scored three half-centuries for Western Australia and Australia A. The 19-year-old’s best figures with the ball are 5-56 for WA against South Australia in Adelaide in March.
The New Shane Warne?
■ Is the 13th different spinner Australia have used since Australia’s all-time leading wicket-taker Shane Warne, 708, retired in 2007. Nathan Lyon was expected to be Australia’s preferred spin option this summer, but the 25-year-old has endured an indifferent 2013 and was stood down by coach Darren Lehmann. Agar still has to prove himself with the ball at the highest level, but has the perfect platform in which to do so.
Did you know?
■ Warmed up for the Ashes by playing three times for Henley Cricket Club in the Home Counties Premier League Division One. Agar featured in wins against High Wycombe and Welwyn Garden City and bagged a hat-trick, with his final three balls as a Henley player, in the nine-wicket demolition of North Mymms. Agar took seven wickets in all and Henley remain top of the league.