ASHTON Agar was not the only Ageas Bowl International Cricket Academy starlet who enjoyed his first taste of Ashes cricket at Trent Bridge.
While the 19-year-old was rewriting the record books with his epic 98 on debut against England, pal Ashton Turner stood transfixed on the Australian balcony.
“I was standing in the doorway when he got to 20-odd, at which point Darren Lehmann, being superstitious, said no-one was allowed to move! So I stood there for the rest of his innings! It was amazing, it was some of the best cricket I’ve ever seen.
“Most of the guys hadn’t seen him bat before and a few were saying he should bat at three in the next innings!
"The whole experience was very surreal.”
Like Agar, Turner is a spinner who can bat. The pair both play for Western Australia and were flatmates in Ocean Village, Southampton when they began the season at the Ageas Bowl International Cricket Academy (Abica).
Their Cricket Australia/Abica contemporaries – Alex Keath (Bournemouth), Scott Henry (Lymington), Travis Head (Ventnor) and Will Bosisto (Totton & Eling) – have all been playing in the Southern Electric Premier League.
“We’re all getting the opportunity to go to one of the Tests, with the exception of Lord’s this week,” explained Turner. “Scott and I were first up last week, we spent Monday-Friday at Trent Bridge.
“We weren’t there just as net bowlers, we were there for the whole experience, to see how they went about preparing for the game. We got there on Monday lunchtime and sat in on the team meeting on Monday night.”
It was there that Agar’s inclusion was revealed to the rest of Australia’s squad.
“He was warned he wouldn’t get much sleep but he slept like a baby!” laughs Turner. “I know what he’s like, he doesn’t have a care in the world!
“To see someone I’ve got to know well over the last few years look so relaxed before such a big game and then play so well has certainly given me a lot of confidence, especially as he was down here with us only a few weeks ago. He showed how easy the transition to Test cricket can be.”
Like everyone, Turner was surprised by the quality of Agar’s innings.
“I’ve never seen him bat like that, certainly not when I first played against him in age-group cricket when he was in Victoria. He always batted low down and never seemed to get any runs.
“He was definitely a bowler back then – he’s always been a slow left-armer – but then he moved to Western Australia where he’s worked hard at his batting and come a long way in the last few years. He scored a couple of match-winning 50s when he broke into WA’s Sheffield Shield side earlier this year.”
Agar’s Ashes debut was only his 11th first-class match. Turner, 20, is yet to play first-class cricket but scored 51 on his one-day debut for Western Australia in February (George Bailey was the off-spinner’s first scalp).
He has scored 550 runs at 50.8 while batting at three and taken 18 wickets at 40 apiece for Chichester Priory Park in the Sussex Premier League this season. A heavy defeat at Three Bridges last Saturday could not tarnish his Trent Bridge experience.
“We got to spend a lot of time with the squad,” he said. “There was an optional training session on the Tuesday that most of the players went to.
“We joined the players in the warm- ups, and netted with those who weren’t playing and needed to keep their workloads up – it was good to face the likes of Nathan Lyon and Ryan Harris.”
So how does Turner see the rest of the series going ahead of the second Test at Lord’s? “There’s a great mix of youth and experience in the Australia side – we’ve definitely got the ability to bring back the urn.”