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First Test throws up yet more surprises

After another day of high drama, ecb.co.uk editor Chris Devine reflects on the astounding events at Trent Bridge.

At this rate, day three of the first Investec Test between England and Australia could feature the Loch Ness Monster rising from the River Trent to perform a lunchtime show.

If the opening chapter of the 2013 Ashes Series could be classed as dramatic, today saw the excitement ratcheted up to scarcely-believable levels.

No matter who comes out on top at Trent Bridge – and a positive result appears highly likely given the speed with which the game has developed thus far – this is a Test that will undoubtedly be talked about for years to come.

In cracking a remarkably well-crafted 98 on debut - the highest score by a Test number 11 - Ashton Agar has already cemented his place in Ashes folklore.

Yet while the 19-year-old’s contribution to a record 10th-wicket stand of 163 with Phil Hughes merits the highest praise, there was plenty more to admire as momentum again switched from one team to another.

For half an hour this morning, Australia looked set to make hay in the sunshine, only for James Anderson’s dismissal of Steven Smith to trigger a dramatic collapse.

With Anderson once again exhibiting his arguably unrivalled mastery of reverse-swing and Graeme Swann extracting plentiful turn from a dry surface, England picked up five wickets for nine in 32 deliveries.

It was hard to envisage an increase in drama at that stage, yet Agar and Hughes somehow weathered the storm before counter-attacking in some style.

Their efforts, together with a double-breakthrough from Mitchell Starc on the stroke of tea, ensured England were on the rack when the final session got under way.

What followed may not have been quite so pulsating, yet the value of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen’s unbroken 69-run alliance should not be underestimated.

England’s most senior batsmen – in terms of Tests played and runs scored - used all their experience to restore calm and order, having seen 22 wickets fall in the previous five sessions.

For the second day running, therefore, it was mightily difficult to assess who held the upper hand as stumps were drawn.

Maybe it is best if we simply abandon attempts to predict what will come next.

Instead, let us just enjoy the rich entertainment on offer and be grateful that this finest of sports retains the capacity to surprise and delight in equal measure.

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