Agar smashing it at the Ashes
Ashton Agar reaches the highest ever score by a number 11 in Test match history, pulling Australia's First Test hopes from the fire on an absorbing day two at Trent Bridge.PT1M50S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ptrz 620 349 July 12, 2013
Ashton Agar's favourite Ashes memory is recorded on a DVD called A Perfect Day.
Because I've been put in the side to take wickets I'm still very, very hungry for that first wicket.
Now, a decade after watching Steve Waugh make a hundred off the last ball of the day against England at the SCG, Agar has etched an (almost) perfect day of his own into Ashes history.
Record innings: Ashton Agar walks off after missing out on a century. Photo: AP
Agar, still smiling in the afterglow of his scarcely believable 98 from 101 balls, said he had no reason to be disappointed at missing out on a century on debut.
"One of my favourite Ashes moments was Steve Waugh hitting four runs off the last ball of the day to make his hundred and to make a hundred in an Ashes Test would have been awesome, but I'm very happy," the 19-year-old said.
Australia's heroic last-man-in felt no different walking out to bat for his first Test innings against England than he did for his club teams in Western Australia and Oxfordshire.
Confident appeal: Ashton Agar survives a stumping by England's Matt Prior after a video referral. Photo: AP
His father, John, revealed he lives and plays with a simple motto.
"I had every confidence in him," he said. "He is very level headed. He has a motto that is 'no fear and play with freedom' ... He plays his cricket that way."
Agar is no ordinary No.11, as his previous exploits with the willow show. His most recent century was scored from No.7 for the University of WA, who were in deep trouble at 5-58 when he came in to bat. He saved the game.
Ashton's Big Day Out!
Australia's Ashton Agar leaves the field after being dismissed for 98 runs during the first Ashes cricket test match against England at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham. Photo: Reuters
Six weeks ago Agar made a half-century for Henley, the club he was sent to as part of Cricket Australia's exchange program with Hampshire.
"He actually batted five for us; he batted seven for Western Australia so we gave him a promotion. I was quite surprised to see him down at number 11 - he's not your normal bunny," said Henley captain Bjorn Mordt.
In his second Sheffield Shield for WA game he made 53 from No.10, and backed it up with an unbeaten 71 in a successful run chase against Tasmania.
"Darren Lehmann told me to bat the way I know how to bat; he's told the whole team to bat in their natural styles. That's what I tried to do, take the game on," Agar said, after completely changing the complexion of the first Test.
"I've done it before. In Queensland I had to bat at No.10 and was fortunate enough to get 50. I was lucky to have a really good partner at the other end in Phil Hughes, he is a seriously, seriously good player and he helped me through it."
Agar was unflustered, not only by England's attack but by the desperate situation he walked into at 9-117.
He was also oblivious to the fact he'd taken down Tino Best's world record for the highest score by a No.11.
Now, he is determined to do the job he was selected for. The left-arm spinner caused some problems for Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook on the second evening of the Test but was still searching for his first wicket.
"Because I've been put in the side to take wickets I'm still very, very hungry for that first wicket," he said. "I like to think I'm a bowling allrounder but to get that wicket will be an extra special moment."
He is dreaming big. "It'd be nice to take five-for now that I didn't get the hundred."
Australia can be thankful that Agar gave up Australian football in his formative years for reasons that are hard to believe looking at his tall, athletic frame.
"So I was the little fat kid getting smashed around so I thought I'd give that a break and the cricket took off.''
The first thing Agar did after getting out was apologise for his parents, who have flown around the world and received excellent value for their tickets.
He needn't have bothered.
"I'm not disappointed," said Agar's father.
"He will get a hundred. It will come, it doesn't have to happen today, he can wait."
Based on his debut innings, his next attempt might be from further up the order.
"That's in the coach's hands but I guess it's a possibility now."