Teenage Australia debutant Ashton Agar fell agonisingly short of becoming the first Test match number 11 to score a century as he frustrated England with a record-breaking 98 on the second day of the Ashes opener at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
It seemed England would have a commanding first innings lead as Australia collapsed to 117 for nine in reply to the Ashes-holders first innings 215. But 19-year-old Agar went on to make the highest score by any Test No 11,surpassing Tino Bests 95 for the West Indies against England at Edgbaston last year.
Together with fellow left-hander Phil Hughes (81 not out),Agar shared a 10th wicket Test record partnership of 163 to take Australia to 280.
That topped the previous last wicket record stand of 151 held jointly by Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge for New Zealand against Pakistan at Auckland in 1972/73 and Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed for Pakistan against South Africa at Rawalpindi in 1997/98.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc then followed up by taking two wickets in successive balls to leave England floundering at 11 for two. But England captain Alastair Cook (37 not out) and Kevin Pietersen (35 not out) rebuilt the innings with an unbroken stand of 69 that left the hosts 80 for two at stumps a lead of 15 runs.
Australia resumed today on 75 for four,a deficit of 140 runs,after an overcast first day where seamer Peter Siddle rocked England with five for 50. But the second day saw sunshine and blue skies which promised better batting conditions for Steven Smith,38 not out overnight,and Hughes.
James Anderson,who on Wednesday had gone past England fast bowling great Fred Truemans record of 307 Test wickets,made the breakthrough Thursday.
The slide begins
Smith,driving loosely at Anderson,gaining reverse-swing,was caught behind by wicket-keeper Matt Prior for 53. This was the start of an Australia collapse that saw five wickets lost for nine runs.
Agar did survive a desperately close stumping appeal from Prior off spinner Graeme Swann on six,with Australia then 131 for nine 84 runs adrift as third umpire Marais Erasmus eventually ruled in his favour.
Agar,a shock selection for this Test after playing just 10 first-class matches for Western Australia with a highest score of 71 not out,then cashed in with shots reminiscent of Indias Yuvraj Singh including two magnificent straight sixes off Swann.
But,in sight of a century,Agar — recently playing club cricket for southern English side Henley pulled Stuart Broad to Swann at deep midwicket to end a two-and-quarter hour innings of 101 balls including 12 fours and two sixes.
Anderson starred for England with five for 70, his 14th haul of five or more wickets in an innings in 83 Tests. England then saw Joe Root caught down the legside by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off Starc and next ball Jonathan Trott was given not out by Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar after a raucous lbw appeal.
Australia reviewed the decision and,with the technology at his disposal not detecting an edge,Erasmus instructed the decision be reversed. Trott was stunned and later the snicko system,not yet used by third umpires because of the length of time it takes,revealed a thin nick.
Tea was then taken with England 11 for two,a deficit of 54 runs,and Starc on a hat-trick. But Pietersen survived the hat-trick immediately after the resumption as Starc bowled a wayward delivery.
Cook and Pietersen carefully this was only the second day after all repaired the damage.
Agar,in his primary role as a left-arm spinner,saw Pietersen,on 25,edge him into Haddins pads. But next ball Pietersen cover-drove Agar,originally added to the squad as a development player for just the first two Tests,to the boundary as the bowler found wickets harder to come by than runs.
Leading from behind
Ashton Agar may have missed becoming the first number 11 in the history of Tests to make a century by just two runs,but the debutant smashed several records on the way against England at Nottingham.
98 The highest score by a number 11 of all time,beating Tino Bests (West Indies) 95,also against England earlier this year.
on 27,he went past the highest score by a debutant Australian number 11,beating Percy Hornibrooks 26 against England at MCG in 1929.
on 41,he overtook the highest score by a debutant number 11 of all time,beating Chamila Lakshithas 40 (SL) vs Bangladesh in Colombo 2002.
on 62,he went past the highest score by an Australian number 11,beating Glenn McGraths record of 61.
163,with Phil Hughes (81*) Agar was the highest 10th wicket stand of all time,going past the previous record of 151 (Brian Hastings-Richard Collinge for New Zealand vs Pakistan in 1973; Azhar Mahmood-Mushtaq Ahmed for Pakistan vs SA in 1997).
on 128,the last wicket stand of Ashton Agar and Philip Hughes went past the previous best 10th wicket stand for Australia,which was 127 runs between Johnny Taylor and Arthur Mailey at the SCG in 1924 vs England. Agencies
Im surprised mom didnt have a heart attack
Ashton Agar is of Sri Lankan descent from his mothers side,while his father is Australian,both of whom had flown in for the cricket today. However,he had cricketing roots to draw from on both sides. John,Ashtons father,played for the Prahran Cricket Club while his grandfather on his mothers side,Nala Hewawissa,played cricket for Dharmarajah College,Kandy.
* Agar came up through the ranks,and was still 17 when he played for Australias under-19 side. When 18,Agar was selected by Cricket Australia to attend the Centre of Excellence on a scholarship for three months.
* In January this year,Agar made his first class debut for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield,having chosen to move from Victoria. In what was a foreshadow of his dream debut,Agar,in just his second Shield innings,put on a record partnership of 94 runs for the tenth wicket.
* Agar was fast-tracked into Australias tour of India in February-March,but never got to play a game in the sides disastrous visit where they lost 4-0. He played two tour games,picking up four wickets for 144 runs.
* In April 2013,Agar was playing in England for Henley CC as a part of CAs Hampshire Scholars in the Home Counties Premier League,and marked his time by taking a hat-trick in one of the three games he played for the side.
* June 2013 saw Agar make it to the Australia A tour of England and speculation that he would play a part in the first Ashes of the year were confirmed. He made the Australia squad ahead of the likes of Fawad Ahmed,the Pakistan born leg spinner who was granted citizenship recently.
* Two days before the start of the Ashes on July 8,Australias coach Darren Lehman tells Agar to fly his parents in because he will make his debut in the first Test against England. He would become Australias 12th youngest debutant in two days time.
* On July 10,Agar is handed his baggy green by Glenn McGrath and a day later,Agar (first class average of 39.75) rescues Australia with a record-breaking rearguard effort,making 98 coming in at No. 11. I was surprised she didnt have a heart-attack, said Agar,on watching his moms reaction on the on-field screen after being dismissed two short of a century.