July 12, 2013
Australia’s 19 year-old Ashton Agar, a complete unknown two days ago, was the hero of the second day of the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge. Defying his status as a number 11 batsman, he scored 98 off just 101 balls. Agar came to the cease with Australia perilously placed at 117-9, still 98 runs behind England’s first innings total of 215. Together with Phillip Hughes, who finished on 81 not out, the pair put on 163 for the last wicket in just 33 overs and took Australia to an undreamt of lead of 65.
Two test records were broken. This was the highest score by a number 11 and the highest last wicket partnership. Looking an authentic batsman, Agar’s approach was refreshing – balls were played on their merits, all with a smile on his face. He defended carefully when necessary, hit Graeme Swann over his head for two strong sixes and drove and pulled the seamers powerfully when they bowled full or short. England looked bereft of ideas during the onslaught.
Previously, James Anderson (5-85), supported by Swann (2-60), had ripped the heart out of Australia’s lower order, with only Hughes providing stubborn resistance. Hughes, exhibiting a new method against spin, showed a welcome return to form.
Two third umpire controversies will not been pleased the England camp. Agar looked to have been stumped by Matt Prior off Swann when he’d made only six, but Marais Erasmus ruled in the batsman’s favour. When it was England’s turn to bat again, Jonathan Trott, facing his first ball, was initially give not out for an LBW shout, but Erasmus overturned the decision despite the fact that Trott seemed to have edged the ball. Severely chastened, England’s captain Alastair Cook (37 not out) and Kevin Pietersen (35 not out) steered to home side to calmer waters to set up an intriguing third day. England, on 80-2, lead by just 15. One feels that more twists and turns await us in this topsy-turvy test.
The Scoop 12/07/13