Agar strikes again – this time with the ball


Runs began to flow against the second new ball at Trent Bridge as England ensured Australia would have to complete a tricky chase to win the first Test.

Peter Siddle made a crucial breakthrough before tea, removing the fast-scoring Matt Prior for 31 with an aggressive short ball that was pulled hard to Ed Cowan at short mid-wicket.

The England wicketkeeper’s departure came as a huge relief to Australia, whose plan to tempt him to hit square through the off-side almost worked when Cowan, who had spent much of the game off the field with a stomach bug, misjudged a chance at backward point.

England was 6-230 at tea with a lead of 165. Ian Bell was well set on 56 and Stuart Broad, wearing a prominent pad on the shoulder that was hit by James Pattinson in the first innings, on one.

Batting in the fourth innings at Trent Bridge is never easy, never mind with the added tension of an Ashes series opener and Australia’s recent penchant for rapid collapses.

During the epic 2005 series England wobbled on the way to 129 and got the runs seven wickets down. The highest successful runchase in Nottingham is England’s 284 to beat New Zealand in 2004, and only three times has the team batting last here made more than 200 to win the game.

The pitch offered some spin on day three – Ashton Agar continued his dream debut by turning one off the outside edge of Jonny Bairstow’s bat; the young No.6 caught behind for 15. There was some up and down movement for the quicks, too.

After England resumed at 2-80, normal Test batting resumed for a while after Agar’s enchanting debut innings.

Kevin Pietersen, perhaps the only player in either team outrageous enough to take the breath away as the young Australian did the day before, made a responsible 64 in a promising partnership of 110 with his captain.Pattinson, more accurate than in previous spells, made the first breakthrough when Pietersen dragged a drive onto middle stump.

Then Agar, back on the field of dreams where he changed the first Test with the bat, made his first mark with the ball. He was picked ahead of Nathan Lyon primarily for his ability to turn the ball away from England’s right-handed batsmen but his first victim was the left-handed captain, a man with the powers of concentration to bat for days.

Agar aimed an arm ball into the rough, which popped up off the outside edge of Cook’s bat and was caught by a leaping Michael Clarke at slip.

The young left-arm spinner had collected 2-53 from 20 overs by the tea break.

With England’s captain and its most dangerous batsman, Pietersen, back in the dressing room, Pattinson took aim at the middle order.

The 23-year-old spearhead made life difficult for England’s batsmen with a hint of reverse swing. He jagged a ball back off the pitch at Bairstow, narrowly missing his stumps, then speared in a yorker.

The Australians launched an unsuccessful review for lbw, but the ball was swinging down leg and Bairstow survived.

Chris Rogers took the field wearing a black armband to honour the father of a Prahran teammate who died suddenly during the week.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.