And so what is there to say about a day like today?
It started off with England in the ascendency after rocking Australia under the floodlights yesterday evening, and then England went even further ahead as Australia drooped to 117-9, and then…magic. One of the more glorious moments in Test cricket’s long and storied history: Australia’s 11th batsman, 19 year old Ashton Agar, making his Test cricket debut in the simmering cauldron of the Ashes, walked out to the crease and batted for over two hours, scoring 98 runs, and making it, along with Mitchell Starc and DRS, Australia’s day.
The fact that Agar fell two runs shy of his century is both a story and it is not a story. I think it is the latter. If he had gotten out at 102 instead of 98 the match would be in just about the same position, more or less, and 98 is still the highest score from a number 11 making his debut.
And I think cricket pays far too much attention, at times, to what are at the end of the day meaningless stats. The difference between scoring 99 runs and 100 runs is so meaningless over a five day Test that it shouldn’t even bare mention. But it does, and I guess that is okay on occasion, as humans do need to find patterns in the chaos, and cricket is no different. But on this occasion I hope everyone forgets that Agar missed his century by two runs, and concentrates instead on what was a brilliant piece of batting from a teenager on debut – it could very well turn out to be match saving, and it could even end up winning Australia the Ashes. Let’s not let anything dampen what was an amazing day for the player. And the last thing I want is for Agar to think that he failed in any way; nor do I want the altogether trivial accomplishment of hitting 100 runs to get stuck in his head and hamper his development as a cricketer.
The good news is that most are celebrating his day, not pointing out the missed opportunity.
All said and done: Well played, son; well played indeed. You still have a lot to prove, of course, but I cannot wait to watch more of you.
Meanwhile, down the road a bit, another Australian was having himself a good day in England:
And the players shake hands..Surrey declare on 395-8…and Ricky Ponting ends his First Class career under blue skies 169*
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) July 11, 2013
Such a fitting end to a brilliant career. 24,150 first class runs, and he ends not-out with a match saving 169. Punter pushed the sun back into the sky, and gave himself one more day of summer…one more afternoon with the sun on his face, under perfect skies, scoring freely in Surrey white…
And as Ponting’s first class career was ending, Agar’s was launching into the stratosphere. A poetic end for what was a wonderful day for Australian cricket on the shores of England.
A lot of people have very passionate opinions for or against the DRS. I don’t. But I have a waffling sort of milquetoast opinion that goes something like “it is important to get calls right, and technology can be a great tool in which to do so, like it is in tennis and rugby, but I am not sure DRS is the right technology for cricket.”
Sure reviews can take a little of the “rock n roll” out of sport – but I think that is a worthwhile sacrifice. (But, man, those no-ball reviews make me see red…)
However, I will go one step further today and specifically address the Trott dismissal: if every aspect of DRS is not available, and side-on hot-spot view is a very important aspect, then DRS should not be used, and the on field umpire’s decision needs to stand.
Was Trott out? I don’t know. But for the third umpire to reverse the on-field call when every aspect of DRS was not available, well, that’s farcical.