HE WAS a sensation in his first Test and now the cricket world waits to see what Ashton Agar can produce after his long spell on the fringes. KEN PIESSE reports:
IT HAS BEEN 1,500 days between Test matches for Ashton Agar, Australia’s new bowling allrounder.
Fast-tracked into an Ashes series while still a teenager, Agar says his learning curve since Trent Bridge 2013 has been considerable.
“I’m a better player now than I was then,” he says.
“I’ve had four years of extra experience and knowledge.”
Having stunned the cricket world with his fairytale 98 on debut from No.11, Agar said his debut Test will always be the most pleasant of memories.
From being handed his baggy green cap by Glenn McGrath and batting with his hero Phil Hughes he regards that mid-July week as the most memorable of all, especially as his family and girlfriend Maddi were also present.
He’d dreamt about playing for Australia all his life and while he was to play again at Lord’s the following week, he has had to be content with continuing his apprenticeship back in domestic ranks.
Steve O’Keefe had been preferred for the Tests in India in autumn but with O’Keefe’s form slump and behavioral issues, Agar has leap-frogged the more experienced New South Welshman and will share the major spinning duties with Nathan Lyon in Mirpur and next week in Chittagong.
His batting ability could be just as important as his bowling skills, especially on the unfamiliar sub-continent wickets where even Australia’s most elite top-orders have traditionally struggled.
None of Australia’s current top six do as well overseas as on home wickets and Bangladesh has every reason to believe it can inflict a giant-killing series win against one of cricket’s biggest names.
Agar is keen to make the most of his opportunity so he can press his claims for a Test or two in the upcoming Ashes summer.
So good is his batting that many believe him capable of batting as high as No.6 in the order, giving captain Steve Smith the luxury of five specialist bowlers come the much-awaited home series.
Australia’s Top Six: Home & Away
Ave in Aus Ave o/s
David Warner 59 34
Matt Renshaw 63 29
Usman Khawaja 63 30
Steve Smith 68 59
Peter Handscomb 99 28
Glenn Maxwell – 24
*Before the first Test against Bangladesh
Author: Ken Piesse
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. He has written, edited and published more than 70 sports books. Signed copies of his latest cricket book Heroes of the Hour, cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warne and Steve Smith, is available from www.cricketbooks.com.au