Australia in India 2012-13

Ashton Agar in frame for India Tests

Daniel Brettig

February 15, 2013

Comments: 101 | Text size: A | A

Ashton Agar in follow-through, Queensland v Western Australia, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, February 2013
Ashton Agar's stay in India has been extended © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of India
Teams: Australia

Ashton Agar's stay in India has been extended to take in Australia's major warm-up for the Test series as the possibility grows that he may be in line for an extraordinary international debut in Chennai.

Previously scheduled to depart for India once the full touring squad had assembled, Agar will now be playing the three-day match against India A beginning on Saturday, and may yet have his time on the subcontinent expanded to include the Tests.

Agar is one of three spinners Australia will field in the practice game, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon being the other two. Michael Clarke and David Warner will miss the match, following their recovery from injuries, to be ready for the first Test on February 22.

Only 19 years old and having played just a pair of Sheffield Shield matches for Western Australia following the shoulder injury to Michael Beer that ruled him out of this tour, Agar's left-arm spin has stuck in the memory of all who have witnessed his bowling in recent weeks.

His mature approach and skill in the field and with the bat has notably impressed the national selector John Inverarity, who is en route to India to discuss the composition of the team ahead of the first Test with the captain Michael Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur.

"The plan at the moment is that he returns in time to play for Western Australia but there is a possibility that he could stay a bit longer," Inverarity told The West Australian. "We needed someone to make up the XI and it was a very good opportunity to invest an opportunity in a promising young player."

Inverarity's panel named numerous spin bowling options for the tour behind the incumbent Test tweaker Nathan Lyon, including the Tasmanian Xavier Doherty and the allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith. Agar lost little by comparison to his more experienced slow bowlers when he delivered eight overs during a two-day practice match earlier this week, and now has a further opportunity to usurp his seniors.

"Ash bowled really well in the two-day game," Clarke told AAP. "Everyone knows he's very talented. He's had success for Western Australia [eight wickets at 30.12 in two matches].

"I spent some time with him yesterday in the nets and tried to get him to watch some of the Indian spinners in the nets and see what he was learning from what they were doing. He's going to be a very good bowler. He wants to learn - he wants to get better.

"You never know what could happen. He's very lucky now. He's been given the opportunity to play in this three-dayer. We have Xavier Doherty, we have Nathan Lyon, we have Glenn Maxwell and we have Ashton Agar who all bowl spin. We want to make sure we're doing everything in our power to make the right decision for the first Test."

In this there are parallels with Lyon, who was chosen for Australia's Test side in Sri Lanka in 2011 after only a handful of Sheffield Shield appearances for South Australia, and to date has played more than half his 35 first-class matches at Test level. In the absence of outstanding spin bowling talent bolstered by experience, the selectors have been inclined to flights of fancy, of which Agar would be another.

His spells for the Warriors against New South Wales on his Shield debut at Blacktown Oval were noteworthy against batsmen well versed in tackling spin, the wickets of Scott Henry and Peter Nevill gained through genuine turn and changes of pace.

Agar's Shield batting has also been useful, reaping one half-century and one other handy score in four innings so far. He went to India on the cricket equivalent of an internship, but is now a chance of making a most rapid graduation to full duties.

'I wasn't expecting too much at the start of the summer but it has all happened very quickly and it has turned into a bit of a dream,'' Agar said. ''Michael Beer was bowling really well but he got injured. That gave me an opportunity to play for Western Australia, now to tour India for a week. It has been great.''

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by KGY27 on (February 18, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Thank you Nikhil for pointing that out and answering my question. I wasn't sure but know I know. Are there any broadcasts on radio at all though? I was listening to our ABC a few days ago and the announcer was saying that their journo couldn't even make a phone report from inside the ground during the test. This is a rule/condition set by the BCCI. This is seen by Aussies as excessive. When any touring team comes to Australia, they bring a journo with them and they appear on air. This has always been the case here. Is it not so in England or India?

Posted by Les46 on (February 18, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

Good post Sir_Francis. Agree with you entirely. It would seem that the current three best spin bowlers in Australia based on test performances and first class performances are Nathan Hauritz, Nathan Lyon and Stephen O'Keefe, though not necessarily in that order. Two seasons ago Ritzy was scoring Shield hundreds and taking five-fors, then he got injured and has not quite yet rediscovered that rich vein of form. Lyon seems to rise to the occasion when he bowls in Test colours but still appears to be learning his trade though possibly without subtleties like the doosra. SOK appears to be quite advanced in his apprenticeship judging on recent performances, but the Chairman of Selectors does not select him, and offers no explanation to fans.

Selection of wannabe spinners like Doherty, Maxwell, Beer and Agar (after two matches, in one of which he was decidedly outbowled by SOK: 61.2-23-102-8 vs 37.2-5-103-3), based mostly on what seems to be wishful thinking, deserves some clarification.

Posted by Les46 on (February 18, 2013, 15:00 GMT)

Judging from most of the suggested XIs in this column indicates to me that some contributors have not bothered to consider Sarangsrk's measured comments in the featured article. In particular, "the opposition's weakness is your strength. India's weakness is decent swing bowling, not ordinary spinners."

To this end, based on India's last performance in Australia when they were whitewashed, one might consider a bowling lineup as follows, based on performance rather than whimsy: Henriques (medium fast - reverse swing), Johnson and Starc (leftarm fast), Bird (fast medium) and Lyon (offspin - effective bowler getting better all the time - gets the tailenders out).

Of our available batsmen the following, based on performance, are more likely to play longer innings than others: Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Smith, Clarke and Wade. Smith wins over Kawaja because of recent long innings and experience in Shield cricket. Khawaja's batting seems more suited to the short game than to the long form.

Posted by Sir_Francis on (February 18, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

Considering O'Keefe average nearly 32 with the bat and 27 with the ball and has captained NSW I'd be fascinated to know why Inverarity isn't impressed with him.

They've been impressed with Lyon (no better than Hauritz and can't bat as well); Beer (done nothing), Holland (done nothing); Doherty (a net bowler); Agar (who?)l Smith (seriously?); Maxwell and his career 27 wickets (can they afford him?). Marcus North (record is no worse). I've probably forgotten a few but O'Keefe's FC record is much better that than any of these. Very odd. Maybe Clarke should bowl more. His ave. is better than Doherty's and that includes tests batsmen.

Posted by Claydo78 on (February 18, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

Why dont we just abolish shield cricket and pick players straight from grade cricket? The only way any bowler should be considered or even on tour after 2 first class games is if he got back to back 10 wicket hauls! Once again cricket australia are absolutely lost and are just guessing! If clarke doesnt score a mountain of runs this year we are going to get smashed!

Posted by Batmanian on (February 18, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

It looks like Australia has two more spots for spinners than it has decent spinners. Doherty was the pick in the tour match - I'm sorry to say, I wouldn't leave him out. An upside I can see is that pretty much all of the Australian bowlers (including Siddle) are borderline all-rounders when in the right mood. It's risky, but this means neither Khawaja nor Henriques are necessary.

If there's no Warner, 1. Watson, 2. Cowan, 3. Hughes, 4. Johnson, 5. Clarke 6. Wade, 7. Pattinson, 8. Starc, 9. Agar, 10. Lyon, 11. Doherty

Bit stiff on Siddle, Khawaja and even Bird, and a bit eccentric with Johnson, but Wade needs a bit of a buffer. Three openers, a potentially devastating quasi-Watson in Johnson, Clarke in his preferred slot and no tail. Then three spinners and three and a half pacemen.

Posted by Samdanh on (February 17, 2013, 17:03 GMT)

My suggestion is Watson, Cowan, Phil Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja (Watson at this number if Warner is part of the team), Wade, Henriques, Starc, Johnson, Lyon and Agar. A fast bowling allrounder, and two specialist spinners is way to go. Unless the pitch has been additinally doctored to be a low bounce and slow turner, the normal Chennai pitch, the bald and grassless pitch-that is, would have good bounce too. In that case Agar would be better as his height could help get crucial bounce. Patience and application to play long innings would be better than attacking batting as Eng learnt after the first Test first innings experience. If Aus follows this approach, we could be in for a well contested series

Posted by KingofRedLions on (February 17, 2013, 14:59 GMT)

Ozcricketwriter - Five seamers on an Indian pitch? Yeah, that'll work.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 17, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

With Warner ruled out due to injury, and Henriques improving with form, my XI is: Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Henriques, Wade, Starc, Johnson, Pattinson, Bird. There is no way that I would consider Siddle, who has an appalling record in India, and the only question is Bird vs Doherty. Doherty is the best of our spinners in Indian conditions and, to date, Bird is yet to do much in India. But the problem is that history tells us that Australian spinners do badly in India and hence I would go all pace and stick with Bird, who is a better than average pace bowler. I wouldn't consider Lyon, as he is really only good at backing up the pacers. Agar most certainly shouldn't be in the mix and needs to be sent home so that the others can get a shot.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

@KGY - not sure what you're on about mate...in India all games are shown by private broadcasters except some games during home series and India's games during the World Cup which go on free to air.

I live in England and all cricket here (home series or away) get shown on Sky, so not on free to air.

Australia is in a minority in the respect that a lot of cricket is shown on free to air channels.

Posted by KGY27 on (February 17, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

It's hard to get interested in a series which will not be broadcast on free to air television or ABC radio back here in Australia. I do not have Foxtel as I refuse to pay for the right to watch our national team when the big bucks re going to cricket boards like the BCCI. When touring teams come to Australia, do people in those countries pay money to watch their teams away from home?

Posted by AhmedEsat on (February 17, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

We Aussies need new selectors.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2013, 3:11 GMT)

There is no way Agar plays in the first test. As far as im concerned, One Spinner + Warner and Clarke should be plenty. My 11 form in india tests also wouldn't be indicative of my 11 for the ashes. My 11 would be: Watson, Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Hughes, Wade, Henriques, Johnson, Siddle, Lyon, Bird. Johnson and Siddle should be shoe ins purely on there longevity, as I wouldnt risk playing Starc + Pattinson in same test. If Cowan fails in India, he should be replaced by Smith or Khwaja. Maxwell Should not come anywhere near the side. For Ashes, I would go for: Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Bailey/Henriques, Wade, Johnson, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon

Posted by sarangsrk on (February 16, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

@soneri,@isot.. Swann and Panesar were not rookie spinners. They bowled beautifully against a not-settled batting line-up but the whole point that I was making was about quality of the bowler(whether pace or spin). In Aus's case, quality and experience of Siddle/Starc/Pattinson/Johnson is far better than this new guy, Agar .I haven't seen Bird bowling yet. Australia could try and ape Eng by playing 2 spinners but both spinners are no where near english spinners as far as I can see. It will be a huge gamble.

Posted by Pechorin on (February 16, 2013, 17:22 GMT)

Let's just turn the whole thing of playing for Australia into a reality TV show. Randomly pick an XI - men, women, children, dogs - and just see what happens. Make sure they have personality, though; if they're not worthy of a Baggy Green through ability, at least make sure they're interesting.

Posted by hyclass on (February 16, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

Great post @Les46 raising all the points that anyone with a mind to business practices and probability would expect to be asked of the Chairman of Selectors. There is not a shred of credibility to anything he is doing to this point. He seems in fact to be throwing as many different players at as many different matches as possible and claiming it as 'giving opportunity', 'promoting youth' and 'rotation policy'. Its utter rubbish.

Posted by Someguy on (February 16, 2013, 11:59 GMT)

@popcorn - You seem to not have been paying any attention lately. Watson is no longer bowling. Although Henriques seems to be doing that role quite nicely.

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Pretty premature to judge the spinners on a first day wicket I think. Doherty and Henriques are certainly pushing their respective claims. Looks to be 5 bats, Wade plus Henriques, Starc, Siddle, Lyon and Doherty. I think the Aussies could win a match or two in this series but only if they can score big batting first. I wonder how hard Siddle and Starc are running in here? I think they probably know that they'll be the two starting seamers in the first test and are holding a bit in reserve. They have obviously bowled with control at least. I still expect plenty of wickets from them through the test series.

Posted by ygkd on (February 16, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

It would be fair to say Agar thus far appears to bowling himself out of the frame with none-for-plenty. Meanwhile even Toehity, sorry - I mean Doherty, is taking wickets and Sok is left wondering what might have been. Surely it is time to start sorting this mess, called spinner-selection, out.

Posted by AKS286 on (February 16, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Oz team has to think out of the box. Oz team think they will beat Ind on ENG style. Oz team is fully concentrated on their school boys spinners. haha go to SA style attack ind with MJ, Siddle, Pattinson, starc/bird. don't copy eng team they have monty & swanny. SA beat india on dead pitches with the help of AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE (steyn, morkel, philan, tsotsobe, de lange). Oz problem is opening batsman, middle order, wk, spinner and not having trust on their fast bowler in india. COOK , KP, Prior was the batting strength of POMS. only Clarke is going to bat with tailenders mean 40- 60 not out.

Posted by Les46 on (February 16, 2013, 9:52 GMT)

I believe it needs to be said now that the replacement of Australian former Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns by Andrew Hilditch, and more recently by John Inverarity is continuing to push the real performances of many outstanding Australian first class cricketers into the realm of total and complete irrelevance, due to the pursuit of the current flawed selection policy of potential based on whimsy rather than demonstrated performances in the real world.

I hope Ashton Agar's career is not diminished due to his possible exposure to India's top batsmen over the coming weeks. This selection decision is so obviously premature as to be untenable.

I would not blame Nathan Lyon & Xavier Doherty if they were feeling rather bemused at this time, but nonetheless comfortable in their own minds. One also wonders what Stephen O'Keefe is thinking about all this. His performances in Shield games this season re spinners currently in India is indicative of selectorial whimsy over actual performance.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 16, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

Give this guy a promotion to the test team - he's only played 2 FC matches and taken 8 wickets. Eight. That must make him better than Lyon, Doherty and Beer combined. We all know Australia is empty of a guy who can act as spinner, but this is a ridiculous new low. Agar looks like another useless aussie spinner who no doubt can't turn the ball anyway just like all the others.

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 16, 2013, 9:38 GMT)

NM Lyon 18 1 82 0 4.55 XJ Doherty 10 2 43 1 4.30 AC Agar 10 1 60 0 6.00 if these 3 spinners will play whole series than i can bet on 3-0 india or 4-0 whitewash.

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

agreed @handyandy, most unfair. It just SO happenned that WA was touring India for a week, so a guy with two Shield matches got ahead of allrounder O'Keefe, who at least bowls better than Steve Smith, if not bats better as well.

Posted by www.cricketforever.net on (February 16, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Agar , the impressive spinner from Australia has been toyed by Gambhir and Sharma. Figures : AC Agar 7 0 54 0 7.71

Doherty,one of the most abused Australian players has taken the 1st wicket.

XJ Doherty 6 1 25 1 4.16

Posted by AKS286 on (February 16, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

the whole world including warne, mcgill asking asking question who is lyon? some oz cricinfo fans earlier wrote lyon is a far far better than warne, mcgill, gibbs, murli, etc. next year bbl lyon must coaching to warne, hoggy, murli.

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 16, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

ALL of our spinners are being smacked around the park. Maybe we need to stick to our strengths and play 3 quicks, a seaming allrounder and Lyon.

Posted by soneri on (February 16, 2013, 7:24 GMT)

@ sarangsrk - " Indian batsmen would love one of the 3 quicks not playing and instead Agar playing. " Do you mean in the same way they loved playing Monty Panesar in the recent series?

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 16, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

LOL, Doherty taken for 13 off his first over.

Posted by xkfalcon on (February 16, 2013, 4:09 GMT)

Being a keen observer of cricket since the 60's the same era when Inverarity debuted for Western Australia I can honestly say Ashton is one of the most promising offies I have ever seen. He may only be 19 years old but I rate him as high as I rated Nathan Coulter-Nile when he debuted. Both of them are supreme athletes that would succeed in any sport at the elite level. Inverarity and the selection panel are right on the money with Ashton and Nathan (when he gets his opportunity) The game is constantly evolving and these two cricketers are just the tip of the iceburg of the next generation of Australian cricketers that will dominate the world scene not unlike what we we saw in the late 90's early 00's

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 16, 2013, 3:51 GMT)

Seeing as how everyone else is talking about statistics, here we go: In 3 of the past 4 tours to India (2000/01, 2004/05 and 2010/11), Australian pacemen have dominated, with the 3 biggest wicket takers and the 3 best averages all being pace - Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz were all fantastic in India, and the best performed of our current players is Mitchell Johnson. The one exception was 2008/09, when the best 2 averages were both spinners - Michael Clarke took 6/9 in a match that had 40 wickets for 600 and Jason Krezja took 12 wickets in a single match that we lost. But even in that series Australia's top 3 wicket takers were all pacers. Shane Warne was very bad in India. The only paceman who failed in India over multiple tests was Peter Siddle, who absolutely should not be in the final XI. Based on stats, we should go with Johnson, Starc, Bird and Pattinson - with no spinners. Michael Clarke is also the best batsman in India.

Posted by Tal_Botvinnik on (February 16, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

Steve O keefe taking a bunch of wickets against players who don't know to play spin is not a big deal. Throwing a developing (anyway useless) spinner into the big stage is not good enough.

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

So someone else has jumped the queue in front of O'Keefe! What did he do to deserve this?

Posted by HighwayToHell on (February 16, 2013, 1:02 GMT)

@sarangsrk I completely agree with you. Indians wouldn't definitely mind facing some rookie spinners. The starting 11 should have just one spinner and they should stay with their strengths more. Starc has some experience playing in India, not in Test matches though. Plus, he is bowling very well right now. Siddle's last India tour was forgettable but he bowled beautifully against them back home last year. Siddle is one of the bowlers I'd expect to trouble this out-of-form Indian batting line up. Pattinson bowls quick and with purpose, so he should get a game, I reckon. Retrospectively speaking, sometimes it becomes very difficult to pick a playing 11 in the Australian team, well it's not that hard right now, except for the fast bowling department. I wouldn't discount Jackson Bird and Mitchell Johnson as my frontline seam bowlers. My point is, things are okay with this squad, they only miss some world class spinners. Hope this weakness of theirs will not be penetrated to the maximum.

Posted by popcorn on (February 16, 2013, 0:43 GMT)

India have a very poor batting line -up. Apart from Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag,they have NO BATSMAN WITH EXPERIENCE. Our Quicks will DESTROY India. So let's just stick to our 3 pacers + spinner Nathan Lyon.Add to these stocks Shane Watson's partenership -breaking seam bowling, and part time spinners Micahel Clarke and David Warner, we've got the works. Let's not get all too hyped up.

Posted by Venkata_Siddhartha on (February 15, 2013, 23:29 GMT)

Aussies' strength is pace and our(India) weakness is pace(can add spin to that after what England did to us), Siddle, Starc, Johnson/Pattinson will be a handful for us. Strac could be the key because he is a swing bowler like Anderson.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 23:28 GMT)

How did this guy get ahead of O'Keefe?

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 15, 2013, 23:09 GMT)

I can't see a problem with giving Agar a run in the warm up game. We will probably use two spinners at some point on the tour, so what's wrong with a "bowl off" in the tour match to see who has the best current form. ... I also don't care that he's only played a few FC games and has apparently jumped the queue. .. all that really matters is that he can do the job. .. if there is no room for the 'out of the blue' selection then aren't we just getting bogged down with due process? .. the young man is obviously well regarded by those that matter (the NSP and team leaders, not the fan's hyClass) so let's see what he's got. ... personally I always love these bolter style picks. Most don't work but every now and then a diamond will get unearthed. .. call me crazy but wasn't there a massive hue and cry some years ago when a certain blonde leggie was called up out of relative obscurity. That turned out OK in the end I would say..

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 22:33 GMT)

well they wanna win in india...they hv to play with their best bowlers and from my point of view they need to play siddle, starc, pattinson/henriques and lyon and for the part timers maxwell, warner and clark is also available.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

The same penny which dropped for every follower of Aussie cricket a couple of years ago - i.e. that Doherty's a dud - has, it seems, finally dropped for their own selectors as well. The fact that O'Keefe - by far Australia's best spinner & a more-than-useful lower-order bat - isn't on this tour is reprehensible enough, but it seems that Inverarity & Co. are now intent on adding insult to injury by destroying Doherty's last shreds of self-confidence via this very public humiliation.

As for going to Madras with three frontline seamers, Lyon & a part-time spinner: forget it. That's exactly how England came a cropper at Ahmedabad in the first Test. No reason not to go with form & give Henriques his head at Seven as a third seamer (with Wade at Six, a position he's already proved he can occupy with some panache), but you're *still* going to have to go in with two specialist spinners, so, yes, press the panic button & hurl Agar into the fray. If he's good enough, he's old enough.

Posted by xylo on (February 15, 2013, 17:56 GMT)

What is it with the Australian selection committee that they take futuristic, ahead-of-its-time decisions when it comes to issues like rotation, stress management etc, but they turn into headless chicken when it comes to nurturing a spinner. You pick one among Kreja, Beer, Hauritz, Doherty, Lyon and dump them after one series. I am sure that if Simon Katich were to claim that he is a spinner, he would be welcomed into the XI.

Posted by sephotrig on (February 15, 2013, 16:52 GMT)

Oh dear, the Australians are so desperate for any spinner they can find they are using someone with 2 average first class appearances, the talent drain continues, soon they will be consistently beaten by the likes of Zimbabwe, West Indies and Bangladesh.

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 15, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

"The plan at the moment is that he returns in time to play for Western Australia but there is a possibility that he could stay a bit longer," "You never know what could happen. He's very lucky now." If Agar performs well in the 3 day match and Doherty fails, then there is every chance we could see Agar wearing the baggy green next week. Agar is probably a better spinner than Doherty in the longer form... he definitely turns the ball more. Remember, Australia has done a similar thing in the not too distant past selecting Pat Cummins, and look how that turned out.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 15:29 GMT)

This is invariably Inverarity stuff! He never seems to surprise me! Good, or bad decisions/actions doesn't matter.

Posted by blink182alex on (February 15, 2013, 15:21 GMT)

I actually wouldn't be surprised if he outbowled Doherty in the warm up game, although Agar does have 4 times in the wickets than Doherty despite playing half as many games in the Sheffield Sheild this season.

Posted by isot on (February 15, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

@sarangsrk - I think if he is at least a decent spinner, he can work well for Australia. Also, current Indian batsmen are no experts at playing spin as Swann and Panesar exposed well a couple of months ago. So there is no clear case for picking up a fast bowler in place of a spinner on slow and flat subcontinent wickets.

Posted by AKS286 on (February 15, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

Oz will miss haddin, hauritz. mathew wade is mathew waste. if Oz team want experiments then go for KREJA, he is tall and extract bounce. Oz wants to follow ENG but Oz spinners are not anywhere if we saw swanny & monty. BEER & KREJA is a good combination. BEER is tall variations and bowl faster on the air.

Posted by handyandy on (February 15, 2013, 13:56 GMT)

So it is an 18 man squad?

I would imagine anyone who made the 17 and misses out on a test spot to Agar isn't going to be too thrilled.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

If no one minded when Pat Cummins made his debut after 3 FC games then why the fuss over Agar playing? Also, isn't SO'K injured at the moment?

Posted by David_Bofinger on (February 15, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

Australia has a really strong tail these days: most of its bowlers can bat a bit and several candidates are tail enders. They might consider three quicks, two spinners and five batsmen.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 15, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

It's not a bad idea to keep Agar for tests. Our right handed batsmen are weak against left arm spin. We are already giving you 2 free wickets in the form of Sehwag and Tendulkar. It seems Kohli is going Sehwag way - that makes it 3 free wickets. Our bowlers are no good either - bowlers like Ishant, Dinda and Ashwin won't even get selected in Afghanistan cricket team.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (February 15, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

Yes Michael very exciting match and our batting lineup will be clear after this match. This squad is sightly weak as the selections of Maxwell and Smith concern me.We have picked 17 players, yet there is no room for a back up wicketkeeper like Paine or Hartley Wade is improving and is winning me over but he has grassed at least 4 or 5 chances off Lyons bowling alone and would be good to have a backup keeper. Looking at the squad, it does look like Wade will bat at number 6, which would open the door for either Henriques or Maxwell to bat at 7 though i would prefer someone like Khawaja or Cowan at 6 as its a specialist batsman role. Khawaja has been great under boof but needs s proper run and not just 1 game. I'd be very surprised if both "allrounders" sit out a test match. If that's the case, I prefer Henriques to get the nod over Henriques. This will be Lyon's last chance as well My team would be: Watson Warner Hughes Khawaja Clarke Cowan Wade Pattinson Siddle Lyon Bird

Posted by hycIass on (February 15, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

I think we need to realise that we have to do the best with what we have got. Our cricket stocks aren't as good as 10 years ago, but the selectors have made a passable effort from little to be enthused about. We should support our team, however strong or weak, because right now, it's the best we've got. My battle as always, be it cricket, rugby or another sport, is not with the guys at the front line, but the guys supposedly running the show from the comfort of the safe zone. They should step down from their ivory towers where they think they know it all, & get down among the people & find out what we want, rather than telling us what we should expect. I am fine with Agar to hang around with the team but he won't be playing any test matches. I would like to see Hughes, Watson and Khawaja play as part of the 6 specialist batsman. I don't think Smith is our best reserve batsman. I do feel the Indian tour will "show up" a few players and that might take them out of Ashes contention.

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 15, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

I missed the part in the article that Warner and Clarke are being rested. This would mena that Cowan would open with Watson wiht the winner to open wiht Warner in the first test. Khawaja can get a big score to get the number 4 spot in the first test. Henriques will push his credentials further. Very exciting warm up match coming up.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 15, 2013, 12:01 GMT)

Swap the first 2 paragraphs and chill folks, Agar's on work experience and a there's a couple of folk taking leave so he's been kept on. Would love him to prove me wrong but X is a wasted airfare for mine, SO'K, hell pluck Krezja unless his arm's in a sling... guess it's up to the quicks & Lyon now, story of the last couple of years, yet has been enough for all comers bar SA to be fair, and even then only just. Lucky the world didn't end in 2012 when there's such cracking Test cricket to be played.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (February 15, 2013, 11:59 GMT)

Guys you are jumping the gun here, Clarke, Arthur or none of hte team management has said that he is in contention to make his debut, he is hanging around simply because he is a very good talent and it will do him good to spend time with the team and you would all agree that's a good move. Have faith in Lyon as he will do well. In the end we will go with 3 quicks and 1 spinner as pace is our strength. One spinner that's not being mentioned is Hauritz, still in good form and would do his country proud if given a chance.

Posted by Fleming_Mitch on (February 15, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

Keep 3 fast bowl as our quicks actually do better than spinners(Except Warne) in the sub-continent.Kindly remember Galle(the world’s biggest turner) where we won with Lyon+3 quicks! Lets frankly agree that we dont have a Swann or a Paneser! We shouldn't play Wade at no.6 not because we need 6 batsman to avoid top order collapses! I am sure Wade has the ability to develop in to one sooner but when compared with our potential no.7s, Max,Henriques,Smith, he is better so leave him at 7. And concerning Khawaja, he is good against Spin and has improved under boof.Khawaja in the practice game played when the ball was new and was attacking against spin but its his shield innings against spin that have impressed me dancing down the pitch much like Clarke does. The second spinner ofcourse would be the skipper! I believe he can bowl 10 overs per day atlest…the quicks should go with the stump-stump line consistently which would make the batsmen attack Lyon and Clarke, there by giving wickets

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 15, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

Till date i was only thinking that Indian selectors can only do bizarre things, but some recent team selections reflect that Aus and NZ selectors are also not far behind.

Posted by Smart_animesh on (February 15, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

As an Indian I'm pretty much impressed with Australian strategy of sending young players on tour as Talent development process. That's why they are amongst top 3 teams all the time. Will BCCI ever wake up and do something for development of young Indian talents!!!!!

Posted by Scube on (February 15, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

Who are Scott Henry and Peter Nevill that Agar is selected for the Indian tour for taking their wickets!?! Do they themselves know that they are such acclaimed players of spin bowling!?! Why are they not selected for the Indian tour!?! Eagerly awaiting answers!

Posted by jpeacock158 on (February 15, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

wix99 - 11 vs 10 would be a bit harsh on one team? I think they'd need to send 4 over for 22 :)

Posted by brusselslion on (February 15, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Exclusive!!! Next week's theory: Play 11 batsman. You read it here first.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (February 15, 2013, 11:00 GMT)

sarangsrk, you make some good points, however, Bird should go ahead of Starc. Starc leaks too many runs and Bird has great potential, he was very impressive against Sri Lanka with tight stump to stump bowling. He should hopefully get some lbws on this tour.

Posted by peeeeet on (February 15, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

Maybe O'Keefe should look in his gene pool to see if there's any New Zealand relations in there. Might be his only chance of playing tests!

Posted by wix99 on (February 15, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

That will mean Australia has a squad of 18 players in India. The selectors might as well send another three players over and organise an Australia A match.

Posted by Thefakebook on (February 15, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

OK so Zampa is the new S O'Keefe.And I don't know why Xavier was selected in 1st place if Agar was more trustworthy than him.SOK can bat and bowl and Zampa can take wickets but JI hyas his own way I guess.

Posted by AKS286 on (February 15, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

BEER is unlucky again and did't travel to sub- continent. Don't talk about batting of a bowler his duty is to bowl rest top 6 will do your batting job.

Posted by SillyMidPavilion on (February 15, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

Ash Agar to make his Test debut against India this tour? Excluding a horror run of injuries that takes out two of Lyon, Maxwell and Doherty, that's not gonna happen. I'd still play him ahead of Steve Smith, though.

Posted by beggars on (February 15, 2013, 10:39 GMT)

Australian setup has world class bowlers be it young or experienced. They have all in them what takes to be champions in any format. After this INDIA tour once again they will dominate world cricket.

Posted by bobagorof on (February 15, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Someguy: I was thinking the same thing. Someone (I forget who) posted a little while ago that O'Keefe may as well retire because it's obvious that he'll never get picked despite being far and away the best spinner in the country. The more time goes on, the more I agree with this. When Agar went to India it was on the basis of being a net bowler and 'getting experience'. Now he is in the frame to play the Tests. The guy has played 2, count them, 2 First class matches. While he may indeed be better than Doherty (wouldn't be hard based on available evidence), the selectors can't seriously expect us to swallow that he's better than O'Keefe - who in the match pointed at in the article, took 8 wickets to Agar's 3. Talk about being unclear about selection decisions!!!!!!!!!

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 15, 2013, 10:21 GMT)

As an Indian fan, i would be delighted to see either of Agar or Doherty play in the final XI with Lyon being a certainty. This will effectively mean two pacers to negotiate with, which would not be that difficult for India batters. Once, the the first session/25 overs of new ball is negotiated, it would all be a run-fest for India.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (February 15, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

Up until recently Indian batsmen generally struggled against new spinners who turned the ball and whom they were facing for the first time. But that all changed against England when the exprienced Panesar and Swann outfoxed India's batsmen and outspun the spinners. If Agar is that good, the Australian selectors have an interesting dilemma between playing 3 quicks and either Lyon or Agar or 2 quicks and both spinners. I myself would like to see Australia be bold and play 3 quicks and 2 spinners and as the Indian batsmen have shown over the last 2-3 years they currently don't possess the skills or temperament to succeed at home or away. Australia's batting wouldn't be particularly weakened as and India's present bowling unit is inexperienced and generally unthreatening.

Posted by Someguy on (February 15, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

The only reason I can see for the continued non-selection of O'Keefe is that he has upset someone.

This season: O'Keefe has taken 17 wickets at 24.29 economy rate 2.22 Doherty has taken 2 @ 80, economy 3.01

So it can't be on current form that Doherty gets the nod.

O'Keefe's overall first-class average is 27.33, compared to Doherty's 44.78. So he's not getting picked on on career record.

Doherty is a decent limited overs bowler, but that's very different to first-class/test bowling, and should not be used as a guide to pick him for the tests.

Add to that O'Keefe's batting and there is not a single argument anyone can make for Doherty being picked ahead of O'Keefe. It just doesn't make sense.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 15, 2013, 9:28 GMT)

The Argus review was about picking players in form however there should always be room to promote young talent. Someone mentioned O Keefe should play because he has played 27 games over 7 years, this is precisely why he isnt playing in 7 years he should have represented his state 50-60 times at this stage of his career which probably suggests he isnt going to make it. Having said that if the selectors were going to pick him in the test they wouldnt hint he will return for WA next shield game, I dont believe he will play the next warm up game or any test cricket on this tour. But it makes good sense to check out where he is at.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (February 15, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

As an English fan, I am a keen observer of Australian cricket as they have beaten us so often. We learn so much from the Aussie coaches we import over here to set up and run our academies and coach our bowlers, etc. From an outsiders perspective, the rise if Agar as a player shouldn't be a concern or indicate any muddled thinking by the selectors. All they [the selectors] seem to be doing is backing a player, raising his profile in the team, getting him used to being in the test cricket structure. He's a prospect, which is what they are endorsing here and will look to groom him for debut in a few years time...if his performances are maintained. This is actually good forward planning here from decent cricketing brains in the Australian set up.

Posted by SlipsGlance on (February 15, 2013, 9:08 GMT)

It's very unlikely that Agar will be the owner of new green headwear in a week's time, but some food for thought: - Invers (another tall left-arm orthodox bowler, BTW) obviously sees something in him. - This selection panel has shown not much respect for 'the queue' and has been willing to give guys a rapid promotion based on strong recent form. - Dan Vettori made his Test debut a week after turning 18.

Interesting times...

Posted by Busie1979 on (February 15, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Ummm... have the selectors heard of the Argus review? Yet another example of selectors not making merit based selections. What a waste of paper!!!

Now - as a whinging Steven O'keefe fan, I must ask: "Why isn't Steven O'keefe playing? Have the selectors heard of the Argus review? Selections are meant to be based on merit!!!"

Good luck to Agar - I haven't seen him play. He may be destined for great things. Lets hope he is not the next Dan Cullen or Cullen Bailey - hyped up before they had a chance to find their feet.

Here's a shocking idea - follow the "accepted" recommendations of the Argus review, pick Steve O'keefe, and see if merit based selection is good selection policy.

Posted by ravi_hari on (February 15, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

I think Aussies are keeping him to be used at nets. With Ojha on this side, they need a quality spinner and Doherthy is no where near that. If Agar can give the Aussie batsmen good practice the preparations for the team would be ideal. I dont think Aussies will employ more than 1 spinner in any test match here. They will have a 3+1 formula and someone like Henriques will be usued as a seamer all-rounder. If Watson starts bowling mid-way during the series, it would be an added advantage and would reduce the work load on the others. As for Agar, he should use this God sent opportunity to meet Indian spinning greats like Bedi and get some useful tips. He can also learn a lot by just watching the Indian spinners and how they use the local conditions. By the time Aussies return the next time, Agar would be a wiser bowler and might be the No.1 choice for the team. Even Lyon will have an impact on only tailenders and will at best facilitate bowling rate for the Aussies.

Posted by PFEL on (February 15, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

Argus review at work once again . . .

(end sarcasm)

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 15, 2013, 8:37 GMT)

Aussies don't get sucked into this. You must play 3 regular fast bowlers. Starc,Siddle, Pattinson/Bird should play along with Lyon and Henriques. If it is a minefield at Chepauk, Clarke should bowl as second spinner(remember 6 for 9 at Wankhede)

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

Looks like Henriques and Agar will be donning freshly sewn Baggy Greens for the first test and good luck to them! Doherty is never going to be test class. Agar looks to have a bit about him, he looks to be quite tall too which I think is a big bonus on Indian tracks. Has anyone actually seen him bowl? I'd be happy with Siddle, Starc, Henriques, Lyon and Agar as a five man attack. @Michael Sheridon, Gilly never batted at six because we never needed an allrounder, not with the likes of Warne, McGrath, Clark, Gillespie, Macgill etc. Towards the end Symonds played at six, though Gilly was clearly a better bat than he was. Maybe they just think it suits Wade equally as well to bat at six as seven. I think for this series they may well be justified, though there's no reason they couldn't bat Henriques at 6 if they wanted to. Wade has already shown he can handle the extra pressure, so why not?

Posted by Mitcher on (February 15, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

While there's no real suggestion yet from the selectors that he's in line for Test selection, it is a little suss that he'd be kept on. Would hate to see this youngster thrown to the wolves and set back like all the previous spinners sacrificed in recent years. As for @Michael Sheridon's suggestion, I can't really see any justification for Steve Smith being near a test side in any capacity. The guy has horrid technique with the bat and isn't up to int'l standard. And he doesn't want to bowl. Batting him at 7 as a specialist low score maker would be a remarkably horrendous call. We're going to need someone who can make up some extra overs down there.

Posted by Batmanian on (February 15, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

The fact is , Australia doesn't have a known Test-class spinner, so there will have to continue to be a bit of a revolving door. Lyon and O'Keefe may yet prove useful, and can be in bit roles, but the plausible lead spinner's job is still taking applicants.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 15, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

That's absurd. He was hopeless in the warm up match, so why is he in the frame? Is Doherty injured? At least give Doherty a shot to ply his wares before thinking of Agar. Let's just get it over and done with and go all pace.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (February 15, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

What with older players comtemplating returns, youngsters without any experience getting a shot and T20 cricketers getting picked in the Test side, I must say that the Aussies are looking desperate. Anyone in the country who has played the game is in with a shout!

Posted by mthw on (February 15, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

Cue the whinging from the Steve O'Keefe fans....

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

agar is better than doherty and lyon.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 7:24 GMT)

Nothing against Agar, who I have not seen play, but let's hope this doesn't eventuate. I thought we had finally laid to rest the whirlygig of a dozen Aus spinners since Warne. Lyon is a great team player, exemplified by Hussey passing on Under the Southern Cross to him. How gutted would you be to see Agar get a test cap if you were O'Keefe - who's played 27 FC games over 7 years.

Give AGAR a couple more years of solid State performances to EARN a cap.

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 15, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Our plan in India must avoid the following mistakes: 1) play three quicks (something you would know does not work if you had watched the england series, of which you speak so fondly of). I wouldn't go for Agar but stick with Lyon and Doherty, but one thinks why SO isn't on the tour. 2) play our keeper at #6, something we resisted even when we had the best batsmen-keeper in history with Gilly. Mike Hussey annoted Khawaja as his successor and he is the man to bring in at 6. 4) play steve smith, as a specialist batsman, at number 7, and leave out an actual allrounder such as Henriques.

a real specialist batsman such as Khawaja, who is the best replacement

we have for Mike Hussey and needs a descent go to establish himself.

Avoid the mistakes above and we have a shot at being competitive in this

series.

Posted by ygkd on (February 15, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

Sorry, but since when is taking Scott Henry's wicket proof of world-class spinning potential? Agar may yet turn batsmen to jelly, as his name surely suggests, but I think he first needs a lot more work in the Sheffield Shield.

Posted by Meety on (February 15, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

SO'K (injured), must be ruing what might of been!

Posted by muthu4664 on (February 15, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Bold move by Cricket Australia.Indian selectors need to take clue from their Australian counterparts.Out of box thinking required. If U19 Star Harmeet singh born in Australia he should have played for national time by this time.Poor lad not even finding place in Mumbai Ranji team.

Posted by satishchandar on (February 15, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

So what wrong did S O'Keefe did.. Every day a new spinner comes from Australia, my mind goes to that one man..

Posted by VivGilchrist on (February 15, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

I scoffed when OKeefe wasn't selected, I scoffed again when I saw Doherty in the squad. I then saw Agar taken over for development - I guess that's ok. But now he's inline for Test selection. This disappoints me a little because this just emphasises the lack of faith in Doherty (which is totally justified), so why select him over OKeefe? My conclusion.... Agar ahead of Doherty - YES Agar ahead of OKeefe - Not Yet.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 15, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

Surely everyone in australia must be in with a chance of playing as the spinner in india.

Posted by JoieDeVivre on (February 15, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

Not a bad decision at all. Even if the doesn't make his Test debut but just being the squad in the land of spin and watch some of the top players play will make him a better bowler. As far as I'm concerned this is a step in the right direction.

Posted by Apocalypse_EX on (February 15, 2013, 6:30 GMT)

God...I knew these Australian selectors couldnt resist from thrusting him into tests,of all the places in India. The kid, however promising has only played a handfull of first-class games. There ia possibility it could succeed but if it fails?

Posted by Rabbito on (February 15, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

What the hell is going on with the selectors?? give the kid a chance!! he needs at least another couple of years before he'll be ready, besideds zampas, far further advanced than him, and is a better bowler as well, and hes not getting thought of by the selectors, and nor should he be for a year or two. As much as i like selecting young players, this is getting stupid if he does get selected

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

May as well keep him on, he's better than Doherty, but hell, who isn't (in FC cricket that is)?

Posted by steve_mcking1 on (February 15, 2013, 6:19 GMT)

Too soon. Give him a full season in the Shield.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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