Consider this: it’s September and you’re 19 years old and getting some experience under your belt playing in the Double A leagues. Then you get a call from the Yankees that you’re needed for the pennant battle against the Boston Red Sox and would you kindly show up to pitch the next day for the first game? So you show up, and nobody knows who you are: the BoSox scouts and batting coaches, who have no video of you and don’t know what you can do; and the Yankee staff who assume you don’t know which end of the bat to hold and put you at the bottom of the rotation (let’s assume for the purpose of this analogy that National League rules apply, and the pitcher bats). What happens? Well, you pitch OK, but to everyone’s surprise except yourself, you hit four home runs—more than any other rookie pitcher in history. You’re an instant legend.
Such is the (very) loose analogy for baseball fans for what has just happened to Ashton Agar in cricket. Brought in as a spin-bowler for the Australian team for the first Ashes Test match with England, Agar did OK with the ball, but coming in as the last member of the batting order, he scored 98 runs—the highest score ever for a number-eleven batsman—and took part in the largest partnership for the last wicket in the history of the game. Furthermore, he so clearly enjoyed taking part in the match—smiling even when he was caught only two runs from making his first ever century let alone one in a high-stakes match—that even grizzled old cynics like me (Martin) couldn’t help but relish his arrival on the international scene. You can be sure of two things: (1) Ashton Agar will no longer be batting at number eleven, and (2) we’re going to see a lot more of this young man in the future.