First Test – Day 1: Who is Ashton Agar?

England 215 (Trott 48, Bairstow 37, Root 30, Siddle 5/50, Pattinson 3/69, Starc 2/54), Australia 4/75 (Smith 38*, Anderson 2/25, Finn 2/37) Stumps Day 1

The majority of Australian sports fans had one question last night, “who the hell is Ashton Agar?” Unknown to all but the most serious cricket fans, the former Richmond CC left arm orthodox spinner joined Western Australia last season and impressed all as he quickly became the Warriors number one spinner. In a well kept secret that no-one saw coming, 19 year old Agar was handed Australia’s 434th Test cap, yet another spinner in the revolving door of tweakers since the retirement of S.K. Warne. A bold move, a kick in the guts to Nathan Lyon. The Lehmann era will be interesting. 5 changes from Australia last Test against India in Dehli, with in coming Rogers, Clarke, Haddin, Starc and Agar in place of Warner, Wade, Maxwell, Johnson & Lyon. After 17 Tests with the Warner/Cowan opening combination we have a new opening pair with the prolific 35 year old Chris Rogers being given another chance, alongside Shane Watson who was successful in his campaign to be reinstated at the top of the order. No faceless men required.

England captain Cook wins the toss and has no hesitation in electing to bat on a dry looking Trent Bridge pitch. Pattinson and Starc spray the new ball around, getting good movement through the air but not in control of the swinging Duke. England get to 27 when Pattinson entices an edge from Cook, the skipper out for 13. Trott comes to the crease and is easily the most impressive batsman of the day, Siddle enters the attack and is also wayward, bowling several half volleys on leg stump that Trott easily dispatches. Agar enters the attack and there is no Shane Warne style fairytale first ball on English soil, instead a full toss is put away for four through cover by Trott. But the tall left arm spinner lands them pretty well after that and could have an influence later in the match as the pitch wears. Siddle then finds some accuracy and turns the match around by bowling Root for 30, getting Pieterson to edge to Clarke at second slip for 13 then bowling a well set Trott for 48. 1/78 becomes 4/124. Bell and Bairstow offer some resistance until Bell nicks one to Watson off Siddle, then Prior is caught by Hughes at point and the lion hearted Victorian has 5 wickets, silencing his doubters and living up to his Test bowling ranking of no.5. Pattinson dismisses Broad and the first 7 wickets have been claimed by Victorians. A brilliant in-swinging yorker from Starc knocks over the defiant Yorkshireman Bairstow for 37,  and then dismisses Finn next ball. Pattinson takes the last wicket and England have been bundled out for just 215.

215 may not be that bad a score given the brittleness of Australia’s batting. The tourists face a difficult 21 overs to finish the day and don’t do it well, 4/75 at stumps. Australia needed a Robin Hood innings from Watson but he only gives us Lady Marian, pushing hard at a Finn delivery outside off stump and edging to Root at 2nd slip. Next ball Cowan slashes at a wide delivery from Finn and is caught by Swann. Not the sort of shot Cowan needs to be playing early in his innings if he wants a long career at number 3. Jimmy Anderson plays the Sheriff of Nottingham role, bowling Clarke for a duck with a great delivery that just moved away enough to miss Clarke’s edge and clip the top of off stump. Chris Rogers works hard but is trapped in front by Anderson for 16. Steve Smith batted well and with intent, finishing unbeaten on 38 off 51 balls. England finish the day in front.

The hopes of an entire nation will rest on the shoulders of Steve Smith and Phil Hughes when day 2 starts. A scary thought for most of us, a huge opportunity for the maligned duo. Haddin will need to stand up too, and all of the tail can bat. Ashes cricket is always totally captivating.

About Luke Reynolds

Somewhere down there between daytime and the dark.

Comments

  1. Good work Luke. Yes Nathan Lyon is unlucky and perhaps a bit hard done by. I like Lyon’s persistence. But he’s had a bundle of chances to cement his place and just hasn’t done it. Gets a bit tight and flat under pressure. I like the way Agar looked; very relaxed. He’s got nothing to lose!

  2. Luke

    If our hopes rest on Smith and Hughes and an untried left-field selection, we may be in a spot of Lindsay Buckingham.

    I knew of Agar and thought he’d play one day, but didn’t see that coming. If we win though, who sings the song with Lyon out?

    Think the Warner to Aust A decision shows great leadership by Boof, well done, sends a message to all, he’ll play a part in the long term. Boof I think really looking at the entire series in his seelctions.

    Really disappointed for Cowan, who I rate despite all the knockers. For a guy who made his reputation on patience and knowing when to leave, the shot screamed of nerves and a desire to please at 3.

    This is a marathon not a sprint, and I firmly believe that our bowling stocks over a ten match series will be superior to the Poms, but their best batting outweighs ours. I don’t expect us to wn the series but it won’t be the landslide many expect. If Trott and Cook get settled, long nights ahead.

    Question though, is it a ten test series or 2 x 5? So is the Ashes first to 3 of 5, or 6 of 10, or series 1 then series 2?

    Confused of Hawthorn

  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks Dips, Agar does look very relaxed. Looks to have a good temperament, he will need it! Landed the ball well after his first delivery, his height is a big advantage for a finger spinner.

    Sean agree with you re our bowling and batting stocks vs theirs. 2 x 5 match series, so theoretically we could lose 5-0 in England, win 3-2 in Australia and hold the Ashes in January. No idea who leads the song, Lyon is 12th man so maybe he still does!

  4. e.regnans says:

    Insightful match report, Luke.
    That spinner position is a tricky one, isn’t it? There’s nowhere to hide.
    If a seamer is struggling, they can be covered by the others (to an extent). But when you’re the only spinner, and you’re getting pasted to all parts…
    Self-belief & resilience have to be at spectrum-breaking levels for the spinner.
    When SK Warne copped a solid whack, straight out of the middle of the opponents’ willow, he’d wheel around with a look on his face that said “I can’t believe how close that was to a wicket.” And somehow he took us with him.
    Contrast with the dejected spinner who kicks disdainfully at the turf when swatted over mid wicket & drops his head, shoulders.
    The power of body language and the power of positive thought on yourself & on those around you I think is huge. Looking forward to seeing what Agar’s got.

  5. Great work Luke. Jesus I loved every second of lasts nights opening salvos. Test Cricket at its finest.

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks David and T Bone

    David, Warnie was the king of projecting positive body language no matter how he was going. I’m sure it got him extra overs and wickets. To be picked at just 19 shows Agar is thought to have a good temperament to cope with the pressures of Test cricket. Time will tell.

    Wasn’t it great TBone. Love watching any Test cricket but the Ashes are a different level again. Unlike a lot of cricket that gets played it means so much to everyone, players and fans alike.

  7. Andrew Starkie says:

    Great Test cricket. Beautiful stuff. At its best, there’s nothing better.

    No offence intended, but couldn’t believe Agar’s selection. On a par with Smith’s debut a few years ago. Inexplicable. Hope he goes well in second dig, but why open an Ashes series with a kid who’s played a handful of games?

    Cowan at three is a shocker. Clarke must go to three! Man up.

    Heroic effort by Sidds. The Root ball was world class. And to think there were some who said he shouldn’t have been picked. He’s the heart and soul of the team. Will he be rested next Test?

    This Test will be decided by batsmen. The first player to get a big score for his team – 150+ – will be the match winner. Let’s hope it’s Smith or Hughes. First hour today is so crucial.

    Australia need to make the most of every half chance they receive.

    England’s top six won’t play that poorly again. Cook and Trott played arrogant, get out shots. If they get in again today, they may make hay.

    Watson’s injury and form of dismissal were predictable. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, that’s for sure.

    Cmon Aussie.

  8. haiku bob says:

    Siddle bowled well, but the English bats got themselves out – even Root, who got his footwork all wrong. Once they settle in, we will see the workhorse at work!

  9. Daryl Sharpen says:

    It’s now lunch time in the Old Dart. Has anyone heard of him now? Very, very respectable with the ball, seems he bats OK too.

  10. Luke Reynolds says:

    “Clarke must go to 3! Man up.” Well said Andrew, couldn’t agree more. Sidds is world class, has enough credits over the past 2 years to not have to worry about a couple of poor tour games.

    You’re right Haiku Bob, the Pommy bats did get themselves out. We will have to work much harder for our wickets over the next 9.5 Tests.

    He does bat “OK” Daryl! Putting on a clinic. Great to watch.

  11. Gutted he didn’t make the ton. But I reckon if anyone said you will make 98 on debut, you’d take it. Love that he apologised to his brothers, then laughed. The temperament seems fine.

    Now I know he can bat.

  12. Luke Reynolds says:

    Spot on Gus. There’s a few others in the team who would love to take a score of 98 too.

  13. Tim Ladhams says:

    Thanks Luke, insightful piece. You’d have thought Cowan had moved up the order, not the shot of anyone who understands how to bat in English conditions, let alone someone who has opened the batting at test level and spent months at TB playing county cricket. I think young Ashton answered the question posed in the title of your piece fairly emphatically, don’t you?! As a “new” Australian who’s had the blue passport for only a matter of months and the red one all my 45 years on the planet I was not best pleased England threw away the chance of a hundred run first innings lead, but was delighted for the kid and for the intrigue it lends to the next six months. A drubbing for Australia here might have been fatal to the chances of really competitive back-to-back series, The yo-yoing already seen in only two days of cricket suggests it’s going to be a roller coaster ride all the way to the SCG….

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