Ashes 2013: 'We knew Ashton Agar could bat a bit... but not that well,' says Henley chief
Youngster was out for four on league debut for English club, but is now on 'upward trend'
Thursday 11 July 2013
"We knew that he could bat a bit," said Henley Cricket Club chairman Brian Kenworthy. He was speaking last night about Ashton Agar, who played for Henley earlier this season, but may not do so again after scoring one of the greatest innings in Ashes history.
Henley had done what research they could on Agar, 19, before he joined earlier this summer, and had seen him bat with some success, but this remarkable run-a-ball assault surprised Kenworthy too.
"Hampshire organise with Cricket Australia to bring six of their Under-19 academy players across to England to give them some experience and we were asked if we would take one," Kenworthy told The Independent. "When we were told it was Ashton Agar we looked on the Cricinfo website and saw he'd gone to the Under-19 World Cup last year.
"We followed him a bit for Western Australia right at the end of the season, we saw that he scored some runs and batted for a fair amount of time. Apparently he bats at seven for them, so there was a hint.
"Anybody who was taken with the Australian squad to India over the winter, and got to play with the Australians against India A, is going to be a useful cricketer. What's worked in his favour more than anything is Darren Lehmann taking over as Australian coach. Because he has been looking after the 'A' squad so I guess he's seen a bit more of Agar and obviously seen some potential there in him.
"I had to meet him down at Hampshire, hand the car over to him so he could get from his accommodation in Southampton up to Henley to play for us."
While his greatest moment was a hat-trick against North Mymms, all of them leg before, he did have some success with the bat.
"His first game for us was a pre-season friendly against Aston Rowant, he scored 54 in that match, so he showed he could bat. But in the first league game of the season he was out for four, playing a fairly flamboyant shot and was caught. It was clear he had the ability to hit the ball, we knew he had something."
As is already well-known, Agar came to England this summer with the modest first-class background but, as Keyworth recalled, a very good attitude.
"The one thing we can definitely say about him is that he is a very nice lad, very laid-back, very easy-going. He came into a club where he didn't know anybody. You couldn't have met a nicer bloke, didn't turn up with the big 'I am' or anything, wasn't arrogant, just a nice regular guy but somebody who had confidence in his own ability."
Agar even apologised to his parents after his dramatic dismissal for 98.
"He came over to his brothers and said sorry," his father John told Sky Sports after his historic innings. "That is so him. He still had a smile on his face. He often looks up to us when we're in the stands."
Agar's mother Sonia even thought he had done it, that his pull had beaten Graeme Swann at deep mid-wicket. "I thought he had scored a four and jumped up," she said.
If Agar ever gets some spare time again, Henley would certainly be delighted to have him back. "He is on an upward trend, to bigger and better things," Keyworth said, "but he is more than welcome if he ever wants to pop back and see us." Henley may have to wait for a while.
Shot of the day
It was a shot most thought only accessible to Kevin Pietersen, a sweet whip through mid-on balancing on one leg – "the Flamingo". But Ashton Agar, the debutant No 11, played it off Jimmy Anderson to go to 86.
Ball of the day
Long before Agar's assault, England were worried by Steve Smith who had reached 53. But Anderson beat him with a good-length ball that just darted away off the pitch, inducing the drive, and Smith edged to Matt Prior.
Catch of the day
Matt Prior had to fly far and low to his right to snaffle Peter Siddle during England's period of ascendancy in the morning. It was an excellent catch after Siddle had edged a smart out-swinger from Jimmy Anderson.
Moment of the day
The half-second when Ashton Agar pulled Stuart Broad and everyone thought he might be scoring a historic hundred. But the ball flew to Graeme Swann, who caught it, then ran over to congratulate Agar.
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