Record-breaker Ashton Agar stuns England, turns Ashes hero on debut

Jul 11, 2013, 23:21 IST | AFP

19-year-old Ashton Agar makes Test history by becoming the first number 11 to score a half-century on debut and his 98 is the highest score by a Test match No 11. His innings helps Australia rise from the doldrums and take lead on the second day of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

Teenage debutant Ashton Agar frustrated England with a record-breaking innings on Thursday, as Australia seized an improbable lead on the second day of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

But tragically, the youngster fell agonisingly short of becoming the first Test match No 11 to score a century when he was dismissed for.

England, at close of play on the second day of the first Test, were 80 for two in their second innings. Skipper Alastair Cook was batting on 37 in the company of Kevin Pietersen (35 not out). Mitchell Starc was on a hat-trick after removing Joe Root and Jonathan Trott off successive deliveries with the hosts on 11.

19-year-old Agar, making his Test debut, was in sight of three figures when he holed out off Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann at deep midwicket.

Agar's exit saw Australia dismissed for 280 in reply to Ashes-holders England's first innings 215 -- a lead of 65 runs.

His innings was the highest score by a Test match No 11, surpassing Tino Best's 95 for the West Indies against England at Edgbaston last year.

Ashton Agar

Ashton Agar celebrates reaching his half century during the second day's play of the first cricket Test match of the 2013 Ashes series between England and Australia at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Australia were in dire straits at 117 for nine. But a Test record last-wicket stand of 163 between Phil Hughes (81 not out) and Agar turned the tide.

The previous 10th-wicket partnership record of 151 was shared jointly by Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge for New Zealand against Pakistan at Auckland in 1972/73 and Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed for Pakistan against South Africa at Rawalpindi in 1997/98.

Earlier last man Agar had gone into lunch at 69 not out. The 19-year-old thus broke a 111-year-old record for the highest score by a No 11 batsman on Test debut of 45 not out set by Australia great Warwick Armstrong against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1902.

Australia, who were in dire straits at 117 for nine, 98 runs behind Ashes-holders England's first innings 215, after losing five wickets for only nine runs.

Yet they reached lunch on 229 for nine -- a first innings lead of 14 -- thanks to an unbroken last wicket stand of 112 between Agar, whose knock was the highest individual score of the match to date, and Phil Hughes, on 63 not out.

Agar, primarily a left-arm spinner and a shock selection for this Test after playing just 10 first-class matches for Western Australia, made a brilliant run-a-ball 50, including seven fours and a six.

Hughes, seven not out overnight, did what so many batsmen in this match had failed to do and stayed in to complete a 94-ball 50.

James Anderson had led the way for England with five for 70, his 14th haul of five or more wickets in an innings in 83 Tests.

Australia resumed on 140 runs behind England on 75 for four, after an overcast first day where seamer Peter Siddle rocked England with five for 50.

But Thursday saw sunshine and blue skies, which promised better batting conditions for Steven Smith, 38 not out overnight, and Hughes.

Smith drove off-spinner Graeme Swann to the boundary to complete a 72-ball 50 -- the first of the match -- featuring seven fours and a six.

But Anderson, who on Wednesday had gone past England fast bowling great Fred Trueman's record of 307 Test wickets, made the breakthrough.

Smith, driving loosely at an Anderson, gaining reverse-swing, got a thin edge and was caught behind low down by wicket-keeper Matt Prior for 53.

Wickets then tumbled until Agar's arrival at the crease.

The teenager did survive a desperately close stumping appeal from Prior off Swann on six, with Australia then 131 for nine -- 84 runs adrift -- as third umpire Marais Erasmus eventually ruled in his favour.

The fall of the ninth wicket saw Thursday's opening session extended by 30 minutes but that gave Agar, whose highest first-class score is 71 not out, the time to level the scores with a late cut four off Swann.

Melbourne-born Agar came to prominence during the last Australian season by taking 31 first-class wickets at a shade under 30 apiece in his debut Sheffield Shield campaign for Western Australia.

Before Thursday's play, England seamer Stuart Broad, who didn't take the field Wednesday after being struck on the shoulder while batting, passed a fitness test.

It looked as if he wouldn't be required to bowl but England captain Alastair Cook turned to the Nottinghamshire seamer in a desperate bid to take the final Australia wicket but all to no avail.

Ashton Agar
Debutant Ashton Agar bowls his first ball in test cricket during the first day's play of the first Test match of the 2013 Ashes series between England and Australia at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, central England on Wednesday. Pic/AFP

  1. Highest score in Tests by a number 11 batsman - previously Tino Best, 95.
  2. Highest score in Tests by an Australian number 11 - previously Glenn McGrath, 61.
  3. Highest score by a number 11 on Test debut - previously Warwick Armstrong, 45 not out.
  4. Highest 10th-wicket partnership in Tests, 163 alongside Phil Hughes - previously Brian Hastings/Richard Collinge (New Zealand) and Azhar Mahmood/Mushtaq Ahmed (Pakistan), 151.

Lehmann full of praise for 'outstanding' Agar

Earlier, Australia coach Darren Lehmann had forecast "outstanding" teenage sensation Ashton Agar would come into the game "more and more" after the left-arm spinner was handed a shock Test debut in the Ashes opener at Trent Bridge.

Agar, a 19-year-old Western Australia left-arm spinner, was only brought to England originally as a "development player" for the first two Ashes Tests.

But in a dramatic move involving Australia chairman of selectors John Inverarity, on tour selector and wicketkeeping great Rodney Marsh and Lehmann himself, Agar was preferred Wednesday instead of off-spinner Nathan Lyon, a veteran of 22 Tests.

The stunning selection did not leak from the tourists' camp until fast bowling great Glenn McGrath was seen handing Agar his 'Baggy Green' cap, in a traditional presentation ceremony for Australia players making a Test debut, shortly before Wednesday's toss.

"The boys were good, they knew two days ago so we just had to see if they could keep it quiet and they did," Lehmann, appointed only just over a fortnight before this match after South African Mickey Arthur was sacked as Australia coach, said.

"For a 19-year-old kid, it's great," added Lehmann, a former Australia batsman.

"He's excited and you saw him when Glenn McGrath presented him with his cap, he had a tear in his eye and it's a big moment for him."

Just as England believe off-spinner Graeme Swann can play a key role against Australia because his stock ball turns away from left-handed batsmen, of whom there are several in the tourists' line-up, so the fact England's top-order is mainly made up of right-handers helped boost Agar's case.

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