When Ashton Agar blazed his way into history at Trent Bridge, he wasn’t just making runs for himself but also for his friend sitting at home in Melbourne.
As the cricketing world came to grips with the 19-year-old’s astonishing 98 from 101 balls – a world record score for a No. 11 batsman – his former club captain Michael Sheedy knew the weapon of choice was a bat he had made.
Sheedy began Tails Never Fail, a boutique bat manufacturer, two years ago. He has made about 400 bats.
And now? ”I could probably sell 400 next week if I had them,” Sheedy said.
When Agar made his first appearance in Victorian district cricket four years ago, the then 15-year-old from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs was immediately dubbed ”Bambi” because of his gangly frame. He then dismissed two Victorian players with successive deliveries.
”This is a bit of fun, isn’t it?” he told Sheedy.
Amid the excitement of his Ashes innings, it could almost be forgotten that Agar was selected as a left-arm spinner.
He flicked Sheedy a message just before it became public knowledge that the biggest selection gamble in recent memory was unfolding at Trent Bridge.
Says Sheedy: ”He sent me this text about 10 minutes before he got presented his baggy green and he said: ‘Hey mate, are you watching the cricket tonight. Ha ha. Enjoy’.
”I thought, ‘Right, he’s playing’. That’s his sense of humour.”
Agar’s history-making knock might not secure victory against England but his unaffected approach is refreshing.
When he fell two runs short of a hundred on debut in the first Ashes Test on Thursday night, he didn’t storm from the field at Trent Bridge, blame someone else for his misfortune and then angrily thumb through his smartphone in the dressing room.
Instead, he shrugged his shoulders, giggled like he’d just been caught in the backyard via the one-hand, one-bounce rule and then leant over the boundary to apologise to his mother, Sonya, as he left the arena.
”Sorry about that,” the 19-year-old told her.
Why he felt the need to apologise only he knows, because in the space of one innings a player only cricket enthusiasts had previously heard of has breathed fresh life into Australian cricket.
His bright attitude could not have come at a better time, such is the growing disconnect with pampered players.
”It’s a dream come true really, that’s what it is to me,” Agar oozed afterwards. ”Forever I’ve dreamt of playing Test cricket for Australia. For my debut to start the way it has, I’m over the moon, I’m very happy.”
It seems like it’s always been the case for Agar, who studies law and, until two months ago, hadn’t been to England.
Good looking, articulate, intelligent, with an exotic heritage – his mother is Sri Lankan – and an aggressive batsman, Agar is already being touted as the complete package in terms of The Big Sell.
His agent Jason Bakker also manages Cadel Evans, and yesterday his phone was running hot.
More reports – Weekend Sport
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.