The notable debut entries that defied logic

The ashes It has captivated cricket fans in Australia and England for 140 years. A new book edited by Martin Lenehan has been published celebrating cricket’s greatest rivalry. The following is an excerpt from the book featuring Ashton Agar’s brilliant debut in 2013.

Over the years, the Ashes have had a glorious habit of unearthing prodigious talents that have embodied the old adage “if they’re good enough, they’re old enough.”

From Archie Jackson, who announced his arrival in test cricket at 19 with a glorious 164 against England in Adelaide in 1929, and Doug Walters, the burning sword bushie who was eight days away from his 20th birthday when he broke 155 In their Brisbane debut in ’65, teen idols have taken it big with poise.

2013 rolled around in Nottingham, and it was another 19-year-old, Ashton Agar, who made the headlines on his first outing of the Test Match, not fooling England’s batsmen, but attacking his bowlers on his way to highest score ever with a number 11.

“There was a lot of talk about my age and I knew I was young to play test cricket, but I felt like I should be there,” recalls Agar, whose swashbuckling 98 included 12 fours and two sixes.

“I had come off a reasonable Australian ‘A’ series before the Ashes and then it all got very real when we played a practice game in Worcester the week before Test, and Clarkey came up to me in a pub and said : ‘Are you ready to go, young man?

“I thought he wanted to say if he was ready to move on to another bar and I said, ‘Yes,’ and he said, ‘I’m not talking about tonight, I’m talking about the first test!’

“When I was 19, I was very confident in my ability, so I said, ‘Yes, I’m ready to go,’ because that’s the only answer you have.
can give. “

After receiving her baggy green and an emotionally charged message of pride, honor and respect from Glenn McGrath, Hagar sent seven unrewarded overs on England’s first dig of 215.

As the last man to enter, Hagar probably hoped she had at least a day to calm her nerves before she had to wield the willow.

Indicate the collapse.

In the space of 34 overs, the Australians had fallen to 9-117 and the rookie was on his way to the middle to join Phil Hughes.

The conceited graeme Swann had just taken James Pattinson off for two and could smell the blood in the water. Surely the boy in his first test was not going to get in the way of England by taking a substantial lead in the first inning.

Perhaps it was the exuberance of youth, or the reassuring influence of 25-trial ‘veteran’ Hughes, but what happened next is the stuff of Ashes’s dreams.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone ​​/ Getty Images)

“It was great to hit Hughesy. I had a poster of him in my wardrobe at home, interpreting that great photo of him and holding the pose, ”Agar smiles.
“He was my brother Will’s hitting hero, so it was amazing to go out there and have him there.

“He was a supreme talent and had great mental strength.

“What I still remember from that entry were his eyes.

“He was like a predator: relaxed, calm, fluid, but you can see in his eyes that they are chasing something.

“Hughesy kept me grounded and very present, and basically just engrossed in the partnership we were forming, and that allowed me to enjoy the moment as it was.
“It’s still hard to believe Phil is gone, but I’m so proud to be able to share that day with him.

“It is a moment that has had a great impact on my career and my life and I have to thank him for that.”

In the space of just 31 overs, Hughes and Agar turned a 98-run deficit into a 65-run lead, lowered the volume of a boisterous Trent Bridge crowd and turned England’s game plan into confetti.

“Seeing her frustration was very gratifying. They got impatient and tried a hundred different plans, which is the worst thing you can do against someone who hits lower in order, ”Agar continues.

“They cut and changed the field, changed bowling, played hard, played short. . . I certainly heard the frustration at the beginning of my posts and as I progressed the noise seemed to disappear.

“You want to make your country proud and I feel like I did. It was a wonderful feeling to have friends in the city of Melbourne watching me hit nightclubs, and they all remember where they were.

“We are there to entertain, but also to inspire people and make people feel that something is really important.”

Call it the exuberance of youth, but even the lure of a historic century wasn’t going to stop Hagar from playing her shots.

What had worked wonderfully for the first 100 balls of his career in the test would surely mark a limit at the 101 ball and the bat would rise to Mom, Dad and Will in the front row and tears would flow.

“I wasn’t nervous at all because I was going in one direction and that was positive and that was my natural way. I’m very happy that this is how I felt because if I had thought about trying to get two or a couple of singles when I was 98, it would not have been right given the way I played all the time, ”says Agar. .

“I knew as soon as I hit it, I smashed it, ‘that’s four or out,’ but Graeme Swann was three-quarters of the way to the edge and took the catch.
“I’m glad I came out playing a strong shot. It adds to the romance of the whole occasion and I have no regrets at all. I loved every minute of it. “
Was he ready, boss? You can bet it was.

Like young Turks Archie and Dougie, and like middle-aged rookies Mark Waugh and Bob Massie, who were 25 when they got the go-ahead and served as dazzling debuts for all ages with a sublime century and a staggering 16 lots.

The Ashes: 140 Years of Rivalries, Rituals and Respect it is available online and where all the good books are sold.

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