England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day

Agar joins Waugh in Ashes pantheon

Daniel Brettig at Trent Bridge

July 11, 2013

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As a boy, Ashton Agar was inspired by Steve Waugh's legendary SCG century, achieved with a box office boundary from the final ball of the day. As a teenager, Agar found himself joining Waugh in the pantheon of Ashes history, after conjuring 98 of the most staggeringly nonchalant runs ever made by a Test debutant, let alone a No. 11.

If there was any momentary grief in Agar at managing to pick out Graeme Swann on the midwicket boundary with a pull shot, it did not last long. As he turned on his heels in the direction of the dressing room, the applause swelled and so did Agar's pride. Partnered by Phillip Hughes, he had made history of the rarest kind in an Ashes Test, and in doing so revived Australia's hopes of forcing a series lead.

"It was a bit out of the ordinary," Agar said. "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.

"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. I'm super happy, and I'm happy me and Hughesy could get the team in some kind of winning position.

"I probably hit it a bit too well. All the other ones I'd been hitting up and over the top and I tried to come down a little bit on that one and picked him out perfectly. I could have made a better decision there but, oh well."

Though lacking any Test match experience, Agar had demonstrated his batting ability numerous times at club and first-class levels. Last summer in Perth he rattled off 108 for the University of Western Australia after arriving at the fall of the fifth wicket for 58 and also facing a large first-innings deficit. For the Warriors he had also been instrumental in Sheffield Shield wins over Queensland and South Australia.

What they said about Agar's 98

  • "I thought I was presenting a first cap to a bowler, not a batting all-rounder" - Glenn McGrath
  • "Never ever thought I would say I am disappointed a Aussie got out but I really wanted Ashton Agar to get a 100..." - Michael Vaughan
  • "Whether he got 100 or not, it doesn't matter. I'm most proud he got out playing his shots. He didn't hold back. That's great." - John Agar, Ashton's father
  • "What a stunning, gutsy, agonising 98 from Ashton Agar in the Ashes Test" - prime minister Kevin Rudd

"I like to keep myself fairly relaxed," he said. "I don't get too nervous when I bat. I just try to play freely and when I'm hitting the ball well I try and keep doing that throughout my innings and not change too much. Darren Lehmann told me to bat the way I know how to bat and he has told the whole team to bat in their own natural styles. That is what I tried to do.

"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."

The stand with Hughes pulled Australia back into a game that had been well in England's keeping at the fall of the ninth wicket. "It could have been a lot worse, so to do that with Hughesy has helped me a lot in terms of mentally getting around batting in a Test match and hopefully help put the team in a winning position," Agar said. "He just said keep watching the ball hard and keep playing it ball by ball. That's all we were really thinking of, just keeping it really simple."

England's frustration at being held up by a world-record tenth-wicket union was evident in the field but afterwards the fast bowler James Anderson was generous in his praise. Anderson admitted to little knowledge about Agar before the innings, but was now well aware of his capabilities. "I didn't know a great deal about him but he played really well and put us under pressure," Anderson said. "I'm sure it will be looked back on as one [special Ashes moment], on debut he played brilliantly in a pressure situation and coped well."

In an innings speckled with handsome strokes, Agar picked out his drive of Swann over long-on for six as his personal favourite. Swann pumped his fists after claiming the catch that did for Agar, but was quick to catch up to the younger man as they made their way off. Swann offered the words "well done young fella". Millions around the world shared exactly that sentiment, no doubt including Steve Waugh himself.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (July 12, 2013, 15:09 GMT)

"Whether he got 100 or not, it doesn't matter. I'm most proud he got out playing his shots. He didn't hold back. That's great." -

Posted by Puffin on (July 12, 2013, 13:17 GMT)

Irony that Lehmann was asking for his batsmen to make hundreds then a bowler almost makes one.

Posted by cozens on (July 12, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

lets not get too carried away, I recall a certain T Best scoring 95 recently. Let Agar enjoy his moment, but keep things in perspective. Its his 1st innings. Let him develop and in 10 tests time make a judgement.

Posted by   on (July 12, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

@Shaggy076, Australia rarely play two spinners, the only exception was Warne and MacGill playing together. They gone through a lot of spinners after them two retired and finally established someone in Lyon, only to make another twist and give Agar a go. If Australia does go with two spinners then it means another batsmen misses out. They already have a strong pace attack and the person to miss out could be Watson or any other under performing batsman.

Posted by nayonika on (July 12, 2013, 6:18 GMT)

I saw on TV Mcgrath present the baggy green to this very schoolboyish looking kid and immediately took a liking to him. After seeing him play the first couple of balls without any overt sign of nerves,I prayed he should get a fifty especially since he hadn't got any wickets in bowling. Later when I switch on he telly I see him on 98 pulling the ball but this time my spur of the moment prayer was not answered and Swann did not spill the catch. The best thing about this boy is he is fearless just like Sachin was when he started in Test natch at the age of 16. This quality will stand the young man in very good stead. God bless Agar.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 12, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

Chris Sun; I disagree with the end for Lyon. If his batting is good enough it could pave the way for the Australians to play with 3 quicks and 2 spinners.

Posted by Sugath on (July 12, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

Well done young man. By the way his mother is Sri Lankan

Posted by   on (July 12, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

A boost was needed for the Aussies, it comes in the form of Ashton Agar. Well done, it's not all over yet. There is long career waiting, take it slow and steady.

Posted by   on (July 12, 2013, 2:45 GMT)

This person has deferred a law degree from Deakin University just so he can fulfil his cricket commitments. He is also of Sri Lanka Descent from his mother's side. Sounds like Kumar Sangakara. Whatever he wants to do, Law or cricket he has made Australian proud.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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