Ashes 2013: England ahead despite Ashton Agar record score
First Test, Trent Bridge (day two, close)
England 215 & 80-2 v Australia 280
Australia debutant Ashton Agar posted the highest score by a number 11 in Test history as the tourists enjoyed the better of an extraordinary and controversial day of Ashes cricket.
After walking out to bat with his team in deep trouble at 117-9, the 19-year-old cracked a fearless 98 off 101 balls before holing out to deep midwicket.
His last-wicket partnership of 163 with Phil Hughes (81 not out) was the highest in Test history and lifted Australia to 280 all out, a first-innings lead of 65.
Top scores by a Test number 11
- 98 A Agar (Aus) v Eng, 2013
- 95 T Best (WI) v Eng, 2012
- 68* R Collinge (NZ) v Pkn 1972-73
- 62* A Vogler (SA) v Eng, 1905-6
- 61 G McGrath (Aus) v NZ, 2004-5
Mitchell Starc then removed Joe Root and Jonathan Trott in successive balls to put Australia firmly on top at tea with England on 11-2.
But Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen batted carefully, and with increasing authority, through the evening session to steer the hosts to 80-2 for a slender lead of 15.
Agar's heroics aside, Trott's dismissal provided the day's main talking point as third umpire Marais Erasmus overturned Aleem Dar's not out decision to what appeared a clear-cut lbw dismissal, one ball after Root had been caught by keeper Brad Haddin down the leg side.
Trott, however, clearly believed the ball had brushed his bat and it later emerged that the HotSpot camera that would have provided the crucial side-on angle did not record the moment because it was playing out a replay of Root's dismissal.
I make England favourites because Australia will be batting last on a very dry pitch. I think a fourth-innings target of 260 would be difficult to chase but it's nicely poised really.
England will just hope that, when they draw the curtains tonight, the sun returns for them tomorrow.
An angry England camp responded by asking match referee Ranjan Madugalle for clarification over the incident.
The dispute should not be allowed to overshadow an incredible innings by Agar, which surpassed West Indian Tino Best's 95 at number 11 against an England attack missing the rested James Anderson and Stuart Broad at Edgbaston last year.
Having arrived at the crease with the Australian innings in tatters, following a dramatic 32-ball spell in which five wickets fell for nine runs, he proceeded to repair the damage in breathtaking style.
He survived a major scare on six when Erasmus gave him the benefit of the doubt in an agonisingly close stumping call, but from then on displayed greater timing and technique than all his team-mates who had come and gone before him.
There were two straight sixes off Graeme Swann, several dismissive pull shots off Steve Finn and Broad, and some immaculate drives on both sides of the wicket.
With Hughes happily assuming the role of junior partner as he compiled his first Ashes fifty, Agar motored towards a century after lunch, building Australia's lead and increasing England's exasperation.
Highest Test 10th wicket stands
- 163 Hughes/Agar (Aus) v Eng Trent Bridge, 2013
- 151 Hastings/Collinge (NZ) v Pkn, Auckland, 1972-73
- 151 Azhar M/Mushtaq A (Pkn) v SA, R'pindi, 1997-98
- 143 Ramdin/Best (WI) v Eng, Edgbaston, 2012
A thick outside edge for three off Swann took him past Best's record before two more from Broad's bowling saw him move within two of a century.
Clearly intent on reaching three figures in style, Agar swung and missed twice before mistiming a pull and picking out Swann, who ran in from the boundary to claim a comfortable catch.
The England off-spinner celebrated as if he had won the Ashes, while Agar trudged back to the Pavilion rueing a rare blemish in a near-faultless and unforgettable innings.
Those adjectives would be entirely inappropriate to describe the rest of Australia's batting, which folded in the face of a fine spell of reverse swing bowling from Anderson and some sharp turn from Swann.
There had been little sign of danger as Australia added 33 quick runs to their overnight position of 75-4, with Steve Smith reaching fifty off 72 balls.
Australia secured a first-innings lead in the first Test of an Ashes series for the eighth time in a row when they passed England's 215.
In the following over, however, Smith nicked a beauty from Anderson to Matt Prior to initiate the collapse.
Haddin was bowled through the gate by Swann, while Peter Siddle and Starc were both caught behind, outfoxed by the variations of the peerless Anderson, who finished with figures of 5-85.
When Swann trapped Pattinson lbw for two, Australia were in deep trouble, 98 runs adrift with just their last man to come.
That last man was Agar, a name that would soon be familiar to cricket-lovers around the world.
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