Ashton Agar was the toast of Trent Bridge after a stunning second day of cricket between England and Australia in the opening Ashes test.
The hosts ended the day on 80-2, with Alastair Cook not out on 37 and Kevin Pietersen alongside him on 35. Joe Root had earlier been dismissed for five, with Jonathan Trott following him straight back to the hutch with the next ball.
Both dismissals were controversial, but came about after an incredible 163-run stand for Australia’s final wicket. Agar made 98, and Phil Hughes was the last man standing on 81.
There was little sign of the impending Aussie charge when England’s bowlers – most notably James Anderson – ripped through their middle-order.
Starting the day on 75 for 4, Darren Lehmann’s side moved on to 108 before Steve Smith fell to Anderson caught Matt Prior behind the stumps.
Four more wickets fell for just nine runs, with Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc also falling to the Lancashire paceman. Graeme Swann took the wickets of Brad Haddin and James Pattinson.
Wobbling on 117 for 9, England must have been sensing a huge lead after two days, but it wasn’t to be as rookie Agar – making his test debut – proceeded to hit 98 off 101 balls.
Swann caught the young spinner, whose total is the highest by any test batsman at number 11, superbly off the bowling of Stuart Broad. After such a heroic effort, few could have denied him the century. It wasn’t to be however, with his efforts leaving the baggy greens 65 ahead.
Just 11 had been knocked off that total when Root was dismissed for a thin edge to Haddin. The youngster wasn’t sure if he’d knicked it, but walked after consultation with captain Cook.
Starc smelt blood, and his next delivery produced instant dividends as Trott was dismissed on review. Hit bang in-front, umpire Aleem Dar clearly felt there was an inside-edge before the ball hit the pad. But, he had no choice but to raise the finger when giving the verdict, shrugging his shoulders after the decision.
Trott was far from happy, unlike Starc, who celebrated in style in-front of the Warwickshire batsman.
It was to be Australia’s last breakthrough of the day however, as Cook and Pietersen steadied the England ship. Coach Andy Flower will hope the duo can continue at a similar steady pace tomorrow morning, and help the hosts build a defendable lead.
The last word must go to Agar however, with the youngster delivering the goods in-front of his proud parents. With two young brothers also playing the game at a high level in Oz, the future could be Agar for Australia.
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