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Ashton Agar the Ashes hero: debutant saves Australia with record Test innings

NOTTINGHAM: Not even falling two runs short of a century on debut could dim the smile on Ashton Agar's face, and England spent the evening session at Trent Bridge trying to recover from seeing the teenaged No.11 whisk away control of the first Test.

Agar will forever be part of Ashes folklore for his knock of 98 from 101 balls, which surpassed the previous world record for a last man in, set by West Indies fast bowler Tino Best against England last year.

The teenager leaned across the fence after his dismissal and said to Sonya, his mother: "Sorry about that."

After his stunning innings, Agar said: "It’s a dream come true, that’s what it is to me. Forever I’ve dreamed of playing Test cricket for Australia and for my debut to start the way it has I’m over the moon.’’

He and Phillip Hughes, who made a tough 81 not out, carried Australia to an improbable first innings lead of 65 with a world record partnership of 163 for the last wicket, eclipsing the 151 held jointly by New Zealand duo Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge from 1973 and Pakistan pair Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed set in 1997.


It was a game-changing stand and possibly a life-changing one for Agar, who twice hit Graeme Swann down the ground for six and pulled anything short from the quicks with confidence.

Hughes played a tough, skilful innings of 81 not out, by far his best innings in six difficult matches against England. When the pair came together the score was 9-117 and Australia's first innings was in ruins. James Anderson was swinging the ball both ways at one end and Graeme Swann was spinning it at the other. Five wickets had fallen for nine runs in 42 balls.

Later, after the touring team was finally dismissed for 280, another lanky left-armer, Mitchell Starc, rocked England by dismissing Joe Root and Jonathan Trott in consecutive balls, reducing the home side to 2-11 at tea.

Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen ensured there was no further damage in the evening session, although Agar almost added a maiden Test wicket to his batting heroics.

Pietersen was dropped on 25, the edge skidding into Brad Haddin's pads. England went to stumps on day two at 2-80, leading by 15 and needing a big partnership to stay in the match.

The English were frustrated by two umpiring decisions that went Australia's way. The first was when Agar, on six, survived a fierce stumping appeal because the replay did not conclusively show that he had lifted his foot at the moment the bails were removed.

The second concerned Trott. Umpire Aleem Dar turned down an lbw appeal but the Australians asked for a review. The decision was changed on review despite conflicting TV evidence about an inside edge.

When the verdict flashed up on the screen, Starc got down on one knee and roared in Trott's direction.

Before Agar's intervention, Anderson was performing magic tricks with a ball barely 30 overs old and a familiar sense of panic set in among Australia's batsmen.

Steve Smith, a much more accomplished batsman than when he last appeared in an Ashes series, paid for a loose drive edged behind on 53.

Peter Siddle watched one curve into him and edged the next as it shaped away, and Starc was dropped at second slip but caught behind for a duck soon afterwards.

Anderson collected 5-85 but Swann grabbed some attention when he ripped an off-break into Brad Haddin's stumps.

It was a special ball but the Australian, given his time again, might not have attempted to cut against the spin just two balls into his innings.

Thankfully for Australia, Agar came to the rescue in his first Test innings. When he was eventually dismissed, caught pulling a short ball from Stuart Broad mid-wicket, Swann ran to him as he left the field and said, "Well done, young fella."

Highest Test scores by No.11 batsmen

Ashton Agar (Aus) 98  v England Nottingham, 2013
Tino Best (WI) 95 v England, Birmingham, 2012  
Zaheer Khan (Ind) 75  v Bangladesh,  Dhaka, 2004  
Richard Collinge (NZ) 68* v Pakistan, Auckland, 1973  
Albert Vogler (SA)      62*  v England, Cape Town, 1906
Glenn McGrath (Aus) 61  v New Zealand, Brisbane, 2004
Wasim Bari (Pak) 60*  v West Indies, Bridgetown,1977
John Snow (Eng)  59*   v West Indies, The Oval,1966  
Mushtaq Ahmed (Pak)59  v South Africa, Rawalpindi, 1997
Pat Symcox (SA)  54  v Australia,  Adelaide, 1998
Rodney Hogg (Aus)   52  v West Indies, Georgetown, 1984  
Wes Hall (WI) 50*  v India, Port of Spain, 1962  
Fred Spofforth (Aus)   50  v England, Melbourne, 1885  
Ghulam Ahmed (Ind) 50  v Pakistan, Delhi, 1952

By the numbers

- Ashton Agar, 19, scored 98 from 101 balls on day two of the first Test.

- Agar and Phil Hughes’ 10th wicket partnership was a world record 163  

- Surpassed Tino Best (95 v England, 2012) for highest individual score ever by a No.11

- Surpassed Glenn McGrath (61 v New Zealand, 2004) for highest score by an Australian No.11

- Surpassed Australia’s Warwick Armstrong (45 v England, 1902) for highest score and first 50 by a No.11 on Test debut

- Surpassed previous highest 10th wicket partnership: 151, New Zealand’s Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge v Pakistan at Eden Park in 1972-73, and Pakistan’s Mushtaq Ahmed and Azhar Mahmood v South Africa at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in 1997-98

- Surpassed highest Australian 10th wicket partnership: 127, Arthur Mailey and John Taylor v England at the SCG in 1924-25

- Became the first Ashes No.11 in 117 years to top the scoring in an inningsem 2nd fastest 50 on Test debut by an Australian, bringing his half century up off exactly 50 balls. Adam Gilchrist holds the record, with 46 balls.


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