NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND // Australia teenager Ashton Agar reflected back on "probably the best day of my life" following his record-breaking performance with the bat on the second day of the opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
Australia looked set to concede a potentially crucial first-innings deficit when debutant Agar walked to the crease with his side in big trouble on 117 for nine in pursuit of England's 215.
However, in partnership with Phil Hughes, Agar turned things round in stunning fashion as he made a Test record 98 as a No 11 with Hughes (81no) and helped Australia reach 280 all out and a 65-run first-innings lead.
A delighted Agar told Sky Sports: "It's been a great day, it's probably the best day so far in my life. I'm rapt."
He added on the BBC: "When I walked to the crease I was thinking we were in a little bit of trouble but the wicket was good. I have always tried to play freely and naturally and I don't really get too nervous. There are a lot of people who would love to be doing what I'm doing."
"I tried to hit that last ball a little flatter, I was a little disappointed not to get a hundred but I didn't think I would get 98 when I walked out there so I can't complain too much," Agar said.
The start of the day saw sunshine and blue skies - in contrast to clouds on the first day - which promised better batting conditions for Steven Smith, 38 not out overnight, and Hughes.
James Anderson, who on Wednesday had gone past England fast bowling great Fred Trueman's record of 307 Test wickets, made the breakthrough on his way to an innings return of five wickets when Smith was caught behind by wicketkeeper Matt Prior for 53.
This was the start of an Australia collapse that saw five wickets lost for nine runs and they were 98 runs behind England when Agar came to the crease.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc then followed up Agar's performance by taking two wickets in successive balls to leave England floundering at 11 for two.
But England captain Alastair Cook (37 not out) and Kevin Pietersen (35 not out) rebuilt the innings with an unbroken stand of 69 that left the hosts 80 for two at stumps - a lead of 15 runs.
Agar also spoke of his pride at being able to wear the Baggy Green cap, which was presented to him before the start of the match by former Australia great Glenn McGrath, who also had some words of advice for the newcomer.
"I don't want to take it off, it's very special to me," said Agar.
"He [McGrath] just say there's a lot of honour, pride and respect that goes into the cap, he told me I'm not alone out there and he just said to go out and enjoy it and play the way you play because that's what's got you here. It was a very, very special moment."
England 215 & 80/2; Australia 280
Australia 1st innings, 75-4 overnight
S Smith c Prior b Anderson 53
P Hughes not out 81
B Haddin b Swann 1
P Siddle c Prior b Anderson 1
M Starc c Prior b Anderson 0
J Pattinson lbw b Swann 2
A Agar c Swann b Broad 98
Extras 15 lb 15
Total (all out, 64.5 overs) 280
Fall of wickets: 1-19; 2-19; 3-22; 4-53; 5-108; 6-113; 7-114; 8-114; 9-117; 10-280
Bowling: Anderson 24-2-85-5; Finn 15-0-80-2; Swann 19-4-60-2; Broad 6.5-0-40-1
England 215 (1st innings)
A Cook not out 37
J Root c Haddin b Starc 5
I Trott lbw b Starc 0
K Pietersen not out 35
Extras 1b, 2nb 3
Total (2 wickets, 43 overs) 80
Fall of wickets: 1-11; 2-11
Bowling: Pattinson 9-3-27-0; Starc 13-4-15-2; Agar 9-3-29-0; Siddle 9-4-8-0; Watson 3-3-0-0
England lead by 15 runs with 8 wickets remaining
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