England fight back after Agar assault


Day two of the first Ashes Test should have belonged to England paceman James Anderson, who took five wickets, but instead it was dominated by Australia number 11 batsman Ashton Agar.

Day two of the first Ashes Test should have belonged to England paceman James Anderson, who took five wickets, but instead it was dominated by Australia number 11 batsman Ashton Agar, who shredded records at Trent Bridge.

Agar's 98, the best score by a Test number 11, ever, was the highlight of the day as he helped his side recover from 117 for nine to 280 all out. He was assisted by Phil Hughes, who ended on 81 not out as they broke the record for the 10th wicket stand (163).

England reached stumps on 80 for two, Kevin Pietersen (35) and Alastair Cook (37) in the middle, holding a lead of just 15 runs as the Australia bowlers, spinner Agar included, kept it tight on a thrilling day.

The first session of the day was a study in contrasts, with the first third calm and steady, the second a flurry of five wickets, and the third a century stand between two unfancied batsmen.

The Aussies started the day on 75 for four, with Steve Smith and Hughes in the middle overnight. Smith was on 38 and Hughes on seven, and they batted well under sunny skies as England's bowlers, missing Stuart Broad at the time, toiled without swing.

Anderson, Trent Bridge's favourite visitor, then found some reverse swing and recorded his five-fer within a few deliveries. This made him the ground's top wicket-taker, and triggered a batting collapse.

Smith, having made the first half century of the series for either side, reached 53 before finding himself back in the hut, caught behind by Matt Prior off Anderson. The next four wickets fell for single figures.

Graeme Swann accounted for Brad Haddin and then James Pattinson, while Anderson bagged Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle to record his five. At this point, the Aussies were still 101 runs from taking the lead.

Agar was handed a lifeline by third umpire Marais Erasmus when his score was on six. He was seemingly stumped by Prior, but Erasmus ruled there was something of the boot behind the line, which shocked spectators.

The teen took full advantage though, punishing the short bowling sent down by Steve Finn and making his fifty off the same number of deliveries. He was fearless, while Hughes was more circumspect on his way to his own half ton.

After lunch, the pair proceeded to break a number of records. They recorded the best 10th wicket stand in Tests, ending on 163 when the previous best was 154. Agar's 98 eclipsed Tino Best's record for a number 11, 95, also made against England.

The teen was eventually out just before tea, scooping a Broad delivery to Swann in the deep, and the crowd rose to give him a well-deserved ovation. Hughes, forgotten in all the drama, was on 81 not out.

England's innings got off to a dire start, as they lost Joe Root and Jonathan Trott in the same over before tea. Root edged Starc down the leg side for five, and he walked without complaining.

Trott was then trapped in front the next ball, and Aleem Dar said not out as he thought there was an inside edge. Australia sent it up for review, and Erasmus made his second risky call of the day, overturning Dar's decision despite the side-on Hot Spot being out of order.

Trott had to go and Starc went into the tea break on a hat-trick. When they came back out, Pietersen and Cook battened down the hatches and nudged singles. Agar got some appreciable turn on the drying deck, and the batsmen looked relieved when stumps was called.