Ashton Agar, the teenage sensation from Down Under created history at Old Trafford, Manchester. The modest off spinner from Western Australia, coasted into the record books with a superlative performance coming in at 11. His record partnership with Phil Hughes lifted Australia from a pathetic 117 for 9 to 280 all out, giving a vital lead of 65 runs on a lively wicket.
The much awaited Ashes Test Cricket series got underway in old Trafford, Manchester on Wednesday, June the 10th. England opted to bat first after winning the toss on a sunny morning. In-form captain Cook and Joe Root began on a positive note, until James Pattinson struck early to dismiss Alastair Cook. Root then put on a steady half-century partnership with Jonathan Trott. However, Peter Siddle has other ideas and ran through the English middle order with an inspired spell of fast bowling and dismissed important batsmen in Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Matt Prior. England’s back is broken and they soon folded up for a paltry 215.
Australia, didn’t begin well either and lost top 4 wickets for a mere 53 runs. The first day saw a deluge of wickets and as many 14 wickets tumbled on a lively track. Steve Smith, played aggressor on second day with an impressive half-century before falling to James Anderson. Anderson piled agony on Australia with a rich haul of 5 wickets and was ably supported by Steve Finn and Graeme Swann. The Kangaroos slipped to 117 for 9. England rejoiced and dreamed of a resounding defence of their Ashes campaign.
It was not to be. The drama was yet to unfold. Out came an young man with a glee in his eyes. Affable and modest yet determined to fight it out, Ashton Agar, the lanky off-spinner from Western Australia walked into a high-voltage situation. Both Swann and Anderson are keeping a tight leash on the Aussies. He defended the first ball from Swann solidly that gave the impression of a front line batsman. He soon climbed into an Anderson’s delivery and hit it straight back for a well-timed boundary. No bowler had any impact on this young man, who went from strength to strength. There is nothing streaky about his stroke play. He played shots that would have made a top order batsman proud. Agar forged a record partnership of 163 for the 10th wicket with Phil Hughes, a new world record for the last wicket. He hit 12 fours and 2 sixes in an entertaining knock of 98 and fell agonizingly short of a well deserved hundred. He can however, feel proud of a match-winning performance that put Australia in front. Who would have imagined that Australia would post a lead after being 117 for 9.
It was a indeed a dream debut for Ashton Agar. The unassuming lad born in Victoria brought Australia right back into the game. The match is now wide open and whoever bats well in the 2nd innings will hold sway for the rest of the match.
Agar still has an unfinished job on hand, this time with the ball, as he happens to be the lone spinner for Kangaroos. Swann is turning it a mile and so can Agar. It promises to be a mouth-watering contest and let the best team win!