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Cricket: Ashes hero Agar savours 'best day of my life'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australia's new teenage sensation Ashton Agar said he'd enjoyed the best day of his young life so far on Thursday after his record-breaking 98 turned the first Ashes Test against England upside down.

"It's been a great day, it's probably the best day so far in my life," said Agar after stumps on the second day at Trent Bridge.

And it certainly vindicated his decision to opt for cricket over Australian Rules football because he became tired of being "the little fat kid ... getting smashed around".

Australia were in dire straits at 117 for nine in reply to England's first innings 215 when 19-year-old Western Australia left-arm spinner Agar, making his Test debut, walked out to bat.

But betraying few, if any nerves, the teenager struck a superb 98 off just 101 balls to record the highest ever score by a No 11 batsman in Test history, topping Tino Best's 95 for the West Indies against England at Edgbaston last year.

Together with Phil Hughes (81 not out), he also shared a Test record last wicket stand of 163 that took Australia to 280 all out and a 65-run first innings lead.

At the close, with Agar still to take his first Test wicket, England were 80 for two in their second innings -- a lead of 15.

"It's a dream come true. Forever, I've dreamt of playing Test cricket for Australia," said Agar.

He also thanked new Australia coach Darren Lehmann for giving him the confidence to keep faith with his natural game.

"Darren Lehman just told me to bat the way I know how to bat.

"I was lucky to have a really good partner at the other end. Phil Hughes is a seriously, seriously good player and really helped me through it."

Among the spectators at Trent Bridge who repeatedly applauded Agar for a succession of stylish shots that yielded 12 fours and two sixes were his parents John and Sonia and brothers William and Wesley.

"They were on a plane straightaway, once they found the news out (that he had been picked to play)," said Agar. "To have them there today made that extra-special to me."

They and indeed the rest of the capacity 17,000 crowd were willing Agar to a hundred.

But Agar, who made a century in grade cricket for the University of Western Australia two winters ago, fell when he pulled Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann at deep midwicket, having surpassed his previous first-class best of 71 not out.

"Obviously, it's a dream to make a Test match hundred," said Agar. "But I didn't really dream I was going to make 98 on debut, so I'm very, very happy."

Agar's innings could have ended much earlier, had third umpire Marais Erasmus given him out stumped for only six -- a desperately close call which could have gone either way.

But off-spinner Swann, the bowler denied Agar's wicket on that occasion, was the first England player to congratulate him after he was out.

"Graeme Swann came up and shook my hand and said 'Well done, young fella'. He was very good about it," Agar recalled.

As for giving up on Aussie Rules, Agar insisted: "Cricket was always my number one.

"I did play a bit of junior 'footy' -- but everyone grew a lot quicker than me.

"I was just the little fat kid getting smashed around, so I thought I'd give that a break."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130711/cricket-ashes-hero-agar-savours-best-day-my-life