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Friday, July 12, 2013

Incredible Agar + solid Hughes pull Australia back from abyss T1D2


England 215 & 2/80 (43ov, Cook 37*, Pietersen 35*) lead Australia 280 (64.5ov, Agar 98, Hughes 81*, Smith 53, Anderson 5/85) by 15 runs with 8 2nd inns wkts in hand: T1/5 D2/5 at Trent Bridge Nottingham.

Well, I was wrong to suggest that Ashton Agar shouldn't have been in the team (even though I was thinking of him as the no1 spin bowler). Whatever his bowling abilities his 98/101b(2x6,12x4) on debut and at no11should guarantee him a place - higher up the order- for the next foreseeable future.

His innings was remarkable not just for its quantum but also its quality: especially of strokeplay (not always along the ground) and choice of ball to hit.

We shouldn't forget Phil Hughes who contributed 60 to the 163 world 10th wicket partnership Test record. At times he exasperated me by not appearing to follow conventional wisdom by trying to keep the strike (as  conventional wisdom prescribes), but it became clear that he knew Agar's capabilities much better than me. He toughed it out and became more fluent as he stroked his way to yet another career refreshing (saving?) innings. 81*/131b/9x4 was not like the Hughes(es) of old but displayed a grittiness that I doubted he was capable of.

Even so, Agar looked the more accomplished of the pair, which only reinforces how well the young man batted.

Several significant records were broken: click
http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2013/content/story/650423.html">here
to see Cricinfo's summary.

The partnership saved Australia who had crumbled before Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann after the former had Steven Smith caught behind  for 53/79b/1x6, 7x4.  From the other end Hughes watched 5/108 turn into a nightmarish 9/117  before the unexpected revival and retreat from an abyss of almost certain defeat to shape a pinch-yourself-to-make-sure-that -it's -true lead of 65.

A handy lead in a low scoring match and Mitchell Starc's capturing two cheap wickets( one of which stirred up some criticism of the DRS umpiring) made England's 2/11 at tea look almost as grim a position as Australia's had been earlier.

At that point I dozed off,  and only watched highlights of the last session later, when it looked as if Kevin Pietersen and Alistair Cook fought determinedly and succeeded in preserving their wickets on a wicket taking more spin. A lead of 15 doesn't seem a lot but the spectre of Anderson and Swann bowling in the 4th innings must be causing a few collywobbles in the Australian camp.

Can Agar take a wicket or three? Will the sunny weather of D2 continue or will it revert to the gloom of D1? Can the Australian attack restrict England to a gettable target (like c200)? All this and more awaits.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2013/engine/match/566932.html"> Scorecard
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