From wilderness to World Cup for Australia's Agar

From wilderness to World Cup for Australia's Agar


The left-armer looms as an intriguing option for Australia at his first 50-over World Cup appearance

PERTH (Australia) (AFP) – After a historic international debut was followed by a period in the wilderness, spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar relied on resilience to fight his way back into the Australian team.

The left-armer looms as an intriguing option for Australia at his first 50-over World Cup appearance, a decade after he became a cult hero and broke a Test cricket record.

In the first Ashes Test in 2013, the then 19-year-old Agar was picked from obscurity after being selected ahead of incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon at Trent Bridge.

The wiry debutant stunned the cricket world by hammering England's potent attack for 98 runs, the highest ever score from a number 11 and a record that still stands.

But Agar quickly fell back to Earth, dropped after the next match having lacked penetration with the ball and unable to recapture the heights of his swashbuckling knock.

Agar returned to Australian domestic cricket, but struggled with his newfound fame.

"He went through a period where there was a lot of self doubt," Agar's former teammate Brad Hogg told AFP.

Similarly as a left-arm spinning all-rounder, two-time World Cup winner Hogg served as a mentor to Agar, who was on the outside of the Australian team for more than two years.

"He came back from England and was deemed as a potential all-rounder," Hogg said. "Maybe he concentrated more on batting than his core skill of bowling."

On the famous pace-friendly WACA pitch in Perth, Agar honed his bowling in uncompromising conditions for spinners as he slowly restored his confidence.

'More resilient'

"There is not much margin for error bowling on the WACA. He had to adjust his game," Hogg said.

"He's had ups and down but that's made him more resilient.

"I think what he went through has built a stronger Ashton Agar."

A rejuvenated Agar became a star for powerhouse Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League through his accurate bowling and cavalier batting, providing invaluable flexibility.

He re-emerged at the international level in late 2015 and soon enough Agar played for Australia across the three formats.

Agar particularly excelled at short form cricket, proving a reliable performer for Australia in 69 white-ball matches.

But with Australia boasting a strong pace attack alongside frontline spinner Adam Zampa, Agar has been unable to cement a permanent position.

But on spin-friendly pitches in India, Agar presents a compelling case to national selectors as Australia seeks a first World Cup title in South Asia since 1987.

"You've got to play two spinners in India. He's tall and can get extra bounce, which is suited to the Indian conditions," Hogg said of Agar, who recently became a father for the first time and turns 30 during the tournament.

"He has ability with the bat and he's a good fielder. The time is right for him now to really shine."