Cricket: Agar makes England toil

Australia's Ashton Agar bats during day two of the First Investec Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge. Pic Rui Vieira/PA Wire.
Australia's Ashton Agar bats during day two of the First Investec Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge. Pic Rui Vieira/PA Wire.
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Ashton Agar’s record-breaking Test debut will give Englishmen nightmares for years to come, but was just a “dream come true” for the Australian teenager.

Agar recalled at Trent Bridge last night, after making the highest score by any number 11 in Test history and falling only an agonising two runs short of a century, how he chose cricket over Aussie Rules football because he got fed-up of being “the little fat kid ... getting smashed around”.

It is a decision he will surely never regret, because he was the one doing all the ‘smashing’ yesterday as he shared a world-record last-wicket stand with Phil Hughes (81no) to help Australia recover from 117 for nine to 280 all out.

“It’s a dream come true. Forever, I’ve dreamt of playing Test cricket for Australia,” said the 19-year-old, having carried his team into a first-innings lead of 65 before England closed day two of this summer’s Ashes on 80 for two.

“For my debut to start the way it has, I’m over the moon.”

Agar, watched in the Nottingham crowd by his parents John and Sonia and brothers William and Wesley, played more like a Test number five than 11 in an innings full of assured strokeplay and containing 12 fours and two sixes.

He thanked Australia coach Darren Lehmann, and his batting partner Hughes, for helping him produce his best at his first attempt on the biggest stage when his country needed it so badly.

Agar said: “Darren Lehman just told me to bat the way I know how to bat.

“He’s told the whole team to back their own natural styles. That’s the way I like to bat - take the game on - so that’s what I tried to do.

“I was lucky to have a really good partner at the other end. Phil Hughes is a seriously, seriously good player and really helped me through it.”

Agar missed out on a maiden first-class hundred - he did make one in grade cricket for the University of Western Australia two winters ago - when he pulled Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann at deep midwicket.

He said: “To make a hundred in an Ashes Test would have been awesome.

“Obviously, it’s a dream to make a Test match hundred. But I didn’t really dream I was going to make 98 on debut, so I’m very, very happy.”

England 11 for two at tea, - Sheffield’s Joe Root making just five - before Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen at last restored order in a wicketless final session to close on 80 without further loss.

n Yorkshire travel to the Riverside tonight to take on Durham in the Friends Life t20. Yorkshire are looking for only their second win against a side who are bottom of the North Division.