There are moments in cricket that you will never forget, and yesterday’s debut innings by 19 year old debutant for Australia Ashton Agar is sure to be one to remember.
It will be remembered not just because it was the highest score by a number 11 batsman, but more because of the context of the game when he strode to the wicket. Australia who were cock-a-hoop at bowling England out for 215 were once again revealing their own batting frailties, reeling at 119 for 9. Agar joined Philip Hughes and together they compiled the greatest last wicket partnership in 136 years of Test Cricket, 163 runs that saw Australia pass England’s first innings total. One would have expected senior batsman Hughes to be the dominant batsman in the partnership, especially as he has previously opened the batting for Australia, but it was the debutant who showed the most composure and confidence.
It was a cruel blow that he should play his only false shot on 98 and be caught by Graeme Swann at deep midwicket off Stuart Broad two short of a debut century.
If ever there was an innings that deserved to end with a century this was it. It is rare in an in an Ashes series to have both sets of supporters united on wanting a batsman to succeed but this was one such occasion, so special was his innings. Probably one of the few other occasions this has been the case would be back in the infamous Bodyline series of 1932/33 when Harold Larwood who had been the scourge of the Australians was out for 98 as well. Larwood having come in as a nightwatchman, and done his job superbly.
Agar’s innings was a moment of pure cricketing magic. The way he batted proved one thing, he is definitely not a true number 11. He has far too great a range of shots to be classed as a number 11, and his competence is too great.
It was an innings that was a joy to watch and will live long in Ashes history and in cricketing history as one of the greatest debut innings when it is put in the context of the game. It was a privilege to watch it.