Teenager Ashton Agar’s dream debut for Australia continued yesterday when the left-arm spinner captured the prize scalp of England captain Alastair Cook for his first Test wicket in the Ashes opener at Trent Bridge.
Australia also saw off dangerman Kevin Pietersen in yesterday’s first session of the first Test and, at lunch on the third day, England were 157 for four in their second innings — a lead of 92 runs.
Ian Bell was 20 not out and Jonny Bairstow unbeaten on 13.
The 19-year-old Agar transformed an Australia first innings on the brink of total embarrassment at 115 for nine on Thursday with a stunning 98 — the highest score by a Test match No 11.
Together with Phil Hughes (81 not out), Agar shared a 10th wicket Test record partnership of 163 to take Australia to 280 and a first innings lead of 65.
After 19 overs yesterday he had still to take a wicket, but the Western Australia bowler put that right in his 20th.
Agar dismissed Cook for 50 after the left-handed opener, aiming leg side across the line of a delivery that landed in the rough and bounced, was excellently caught by Australia captain Michael Clarke, leaping high to his left at slip.
Cook’s exit left England 131 for four as a tense capacity and sun-drenched crowd, watching for the most part in near silence, applauded politely.
England resumed yesterday on 80 for two, with Cook 37 not out and Pietersen 35 not out, after left-arm fast-medium bowler Mitchell Starc had removed Joe Root and Jonathan Trott with successive deliveries on Thursday to leave the hosts floundering at 11 for two.
Pietersen eased a drive off Starc through the covers for a boundary that saw him to a 120-ball fifty, with 40 of his runs coming in fours.
However, James Pattinson, who looked the most impressive of Australia’s fast bowlers yesterday, broke through when Pietersen, on 64, inside-edged an intended drive and deflected the ball onto his middle stump.
It was the end of a stand worth 110 in 60 overs.
Cook completed a painstaking 164-ball fifty before Bell got off the mark with a textbook cover-driven four off Pattinson.
They were two stylish shots, but England, above all else, wanted an innings of substance from Bell.