England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 1st day July 10, 2013

Teenage Ashton Agar handed shock debut

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Australia have spun a major selection surprise by including the 19-year-old Ashton Agar, a Western Australian left-arm spinner, in their XI for the first Test against England at Trent Bridge.

Glenn McGrath's presence in the Australian team huddle a little less than an hour before the toss suggested a change to the team, and Agar emerged wearing his baggy green cap, presented on the strength of only ten first-class matches. His selection appears geared towards exploiting England's phalanx of right-handers, while also opening up a familiar wound for Kevin Pietersen.

However, it is a major blow to the career of the offspinner Nathan Lyon, who took nine wickets in his last Test match against India in Delhi. The selection also recalled events of the last Ashes series in Australia, when the previous selection panel dropped Nathan Hauritz on the eve of the series for Xavier Doherty, a move made with Pietersen in mind.

Unlike Doherty, Agar is a capable batsman and also a fine fielder. His inclusion leaves the tourists with a team that can be said to bat all the way down to No. 11.

"The main reason for the selection is taking the ball away from all their right-handers and we think this is a really important weapon in particular for this Test match on that particular wicket," the coach Darren Lehmann said. "In the tour match Michael [Clarke] felt he had good drift and straightened the ball nicely so that's just the way we have gone with the selectors in this Test match and we're looking forward to him playing really well."

Agar was not included in the initial Ashes squad, but after Lehmann's naming as coach he was upgraded to a place on tour, much like Steve Smith, the other notable inclusion in the team.

Smith's selection reflects a desire to have another right-hander and capable player of spin in the middle order, while also forcing David Warner to earn his spot back after poor form and a suspension for punching Joe Root during the Champions Trophy.

In one of the more convoluted paths to keeping a place in the team, Smith was initially left out of the Ashes squad but named vice-captain of the Australia A tour that served as a prelude. He was also on standby should an extra Ashes batsmen be required, an event that came to pass due to Warner's suspension and Michael Clarke's back trouble early in the tour.

Having battled gamely during his two India Tests, Smith went on to impress Rod Marsh and Lehmann - before he was appointed coach - on the Australia A tour, notably making a century against Ireland on a difficult first-day wicket in Belfast. He was then included for the final tour match against Worcestershire and played a pair of sprightly innings.


Smith is being groomed for leadership roles in the future by Cricket Australia, and was set to lead the A team to South Africa later this month before his Ashes tickets were upgraded. He will now have the opportunity to demonstrate how much he has developed since being a figure of some ridicule during the 2010-11 series, when his technique did not appear that of a top six batsman.



The rest of Australia's batting order was more or less as expected, Clarke moving to No. 4 having batted there in every innings so far on tour, Ed Cowan moving down to No. 3 and the pace attack comprising James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle.

Australia: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Chris Rogers, 3 Ed Cowan, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Phillip Hughes, 6 Steve Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 James Pattinson, 11 Ashton Agar.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • glance_to_leg on July 10, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Great and brave decision by Australia. Taking the fight to England, and putting doubt in KP's mind. I really hope the young man does well (although not too well as I am an England supporter). It is also great to see Australia picking a homegrown Australian of Asian descent, reflecting the multicultural nature of modern Australian society. Hope this is a great and tightly fought match, not the one-sided event predicted by so many pundits.

  • on July 11, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    Agar's got a good head on his shoulders and a kind of swagger about his batting. A brave move to bring him in ahead of Lyon, looks like its paying off no way australia had a chance without this cameo from Agar.

  • Meety on July 11, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    The only real shock about Agar's selection is - he should of been batting @#4! LOL!

  • DEDKIK on July 10, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    R.H.D. Sellers was anither Test player of Anglo-Indian origin, as was a near-Test player Ric Charlesworth.

  • xylo on July 10, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    I don't see what is surprising about this. Australia have been picking anybody and everybody who calls himself a spinner. If Katich had started bowling spin in the domestic circuit, he would have made a comeback. And, we all know where these spinners end up in a year after debut. Ask Beer, or Lyon.

  • venkatesh018 on July 10, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    Insane selection. Nathan Lyon should be devastated.

  • on July 10, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    @Sir_Francis: Dav Whatmore, Michael Bevan and Ashton Agar are all of Sri Lankan Burgher ancestry. Moreover, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson are of Anglo-Indian origin. So Agar is in fact the fifth Aussie of Sub Continental background.

  • Ms.Cricket on July 10, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Warner, Cowan, Phil Hughes, Steve Smith not international material at all. Lyon is very unfortunate to lose his spot.

  • on July 10, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    bleugh. when did left arm tweakers ever do any good over there. Ray Bright got one so-so 5-for in 1981 against a pretty poor England. if they wanted to punt, they could have played Zampa or Boyce - leggies always do well over there, since the 30's.

    Agar picked because he can do a bit of everything. and reminds Inverarity, and perhaps Lehmann, of Inverarity/Lehmann. Lehmann, Invers, Clarke - all left arm tweakers. CONSPIRACY!

  • Beertjie on July 10, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    With all the England RHBs, @disco_bob on (July 10, 2013, 10:13 GMT), perhaps it's not bad to have Smith and Agar. Pup won't turn an arm over yet, and there is no Warner.

  • glance_to_leg on July 10, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Great and brave decision by Australia. Taking the fight to England, and putting doubt in KP's mind. I really hope the young man does well (although not too well as I am an England supporter). It is also great to see Australia picking a homegrown Australian of Asian descent, reflecting the multicultural nature of modern Australian society. Hope this is a great and tightly fought match, not the one-sided event predicted by so many pundits.

  • on July 11, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    Agar's got a good head on his shoulders and a kind of swagger about his batting. A brave move to bring him in ahead of Lyon, looks like its paying off no way australia had a chance without this cameo from Agar.

  • Meety on July 11, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    The only real shock about Agar's selection is - he should of been batting @#4! LOL!

  • DEDKIK on July 10, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    R.H.D. Sellers was anither Test player of Anglo-Indian origin, as was a near-Test player Ric Charlesworth.

  • xylo on July 10, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    I don't see what is surprising about this. Australia have been picking anybody and everybody who calls himself a spinner. If Katich had started bowling spin in the domestic circuit, he would have made a comeback. And, we all know where these spinners end up in a year after debut. Ask Beer, or Lyon.

  • venkatesh018 on July 10, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    Insane selection. Nathan Lyon should be devastated.

  • on July 10, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    @Sir_Francis: Dav Whatmore, Michael Bevan and Ashton Agar are all of Sri Lankan Burgher ancestry. Moreover, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson are of Anglo-Indian origin. So Agar is in fact the fifth Aussie of Sub Continental background.

  • Ms.Cricket on July 10, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Warner, Cowan, Phil Hughes, Steve Smith not international material at all. Lyon is very unfortunate to lose his spot.

  • on July 10, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    bleugh. when did left arm tweakers ever do any good over there. Ray Bright got one so-so 5-for in 1981 against a pretty poor England. if they wanted to punt, they could have played Zampa or Boyce - leggies always do well over there, since the 30's.

    Agar picked because he can do a bit of everything. and reminds Inverarity, and perhaps Lehmann, of Inverarity/Lehmann. Lehmann, Invers, Clarke - all left arm tweakers. CONSPIRACY!

  • Beertjie on July 10, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    With all the England RHBs, @disco_bob on (July 10, 2013, 10:13 GMT), perhaps it's not bad to have Smith and Agar. Pup won't turn an arm over yet, and there is no Warner.

  • Shaggy076 on July 10, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    Although I believe Agar has a future I really cant work out this decision. Lyon gets 9 wickets in his last test match and taken 13 wickets in 3 games in England. How can 9 wickets in 4 games surpas this? I have liked everything about how they have gone under Lehmann but that jsut makes this decision so non-sensical. I imagine the only reason they could have done it is because Agar bowls with the other arm. It shouldnt matter what arm you bowl with your best bowlers are your best bowlers and Agar should need some performance to get his spot.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on July 10, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    @Nilupa Priyanka Wijepala Don't forget Dav Whatmore a stylish right-hander and top coach who went to Aus as a child and certainly cannot be classed as a cricketing mercenary. Just one of many stylish Lankan batsmen.

  • on July 10, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    It's a risk, as the fourth bowler he's going to be expected to bowl a lot of overs. But they obviously have confidence in him.

  • Clyde on July 10, 2013, 11:01 GMT

    I suspect it is because Agar can spin it more. It is a similar case with Cowan, whom I suspect can stay in longer than Warner. In both cases I would call it aptitude. I think this team can play cricket well and have every chance of doing well in the series.

  • Sir_Francis on July 10, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    Dav Whatmore is of Sri Lankan descent and, I believe Michael Bevan has Berber ancestors so Agar isn't the first. Good luck to him. Bad luck for Lyon but, so far, he's no better than Hauritz, let alone O'Keefe.

  • Shaggy076 on July 10, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Dave Whatnire was Sri Lankan descent and played for AUstralia.

  • on July 10, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    First player from sri lankan descent to play Australia... i think.

  • disco_bob on July 10, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Looking at this pitch they may have wanted to go with Lyon and Agar.

  • MaheshVenkat on July 10, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    @Daniel Brettig - May be it is such a shock that the probable team still reads Lyon at 11:)

  • Mitty2 on July 10, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Really disappointed, I really rated Lyon. Don't get it wrong, this is a HUGE setback to Lyon's career. Ashton has impressed a lot, and won two shield games for W.A last year single-handedly, and he has huge potential. But I simply can't agree with this. We can't have an inexperienced spinner (let alone a debutant) in the ashes, and we all saw what happened to Doherty and beer. Stunned - Lyon was a certainty for numerous reasons. But still, best of luck Ashton.

    Agree with smith's selection, it would've been a disgrace if Warner was selected. Agree with cowan's selection. Khawaja to come in when/if (when) someone fails - he hasn't deserved selection and Cowan hasn't warranted non-selection.

    On the bowling, we all know my views on starc, and this was going to be the attack a week ago. Siddle had to play, so good, and patto had to play - I just wish it was bird instead of starc.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on July 10, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Bold decisions (Lehmann and Agar) and a total commitment to winning by Aus. The results may (or may not) take a little while longer, but this has a familiar feeling to it may just be the initial stirrings of a new era of the good old days. Time will tell.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Cricinfo guys, please change your starting XI list...if the headline says Agar is debuting, please remove Lyon from the list...I think that's also gonna hurt Lyon supporters, which includes me. It's shame though, because Lyon began showing his true skills on the India tour...this would have been the perfect stage to set his place in stone. Instead CA's haphazard policy of picking spinners is going to cost them the team's morale and quite possible the match...And as for left-arm spin, Pietersen has already laid waste to Doherty and Pragyan Ojha (who is way better than any Aussie spinner at the moment), so the left-arm hokum is history for KP, at least in Tests...Team selection cannot be decided on the basis of one player, no matter how devastating or brilliant he is.

  • sensation on July 10, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    chances chances chances and chances to cowan nd performance just 1 hundred in 17 matches.. i don't know what khwaja has to do to get in the team.. give khwaja 5 matches in a row and you will see the result.. Injustice totally in justice with khwaja.. hope he will get chance in this series.. anyway best of luck aussies..

  • Beertjie on July 10, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Like you, on (July 10, 2013, 9:13 GMT), I didn't see that one coming. Bold decision. Like others, I think KP as the X-player is being set up. Hope it works a dream for the young guy, but like you, @Bockee on (July 10, 2013, 9:16 GMT) I fear for him.

  • Surajrises on July 10, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Unbelievable that Clarke and Lehmann have actually kept an experienced campaigner like Lyon out for a rookie Agar who can be beaten BLACK & BLUE by Cook, Bell, Trott & Pietersen... Just can't understand this tactics. Although I wanna wish Agar all the very best and welcome to International Cricket...

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Is Lyon in or out????

    Australia: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Chris Rogers, 3 Ed Cowan, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Phillip Hughes, 6 Steve Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 James Pattinson, 11 Nathan Lyon.

  • siddhartha87 on July 10, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Great selection . He was bowling well in practice matches. Although Khwaja should have included at no 6. really liking the selection of Cowan at no3 ahead of Warner in seaming Trent Bridge pitch.

  • Patchmaster on July 10, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Good to see Lehman clutching at straws in his first selection. I think I can think of about 4 spinners in recent years that have been picked to 'combat Peiterson'. I also remember them being smashed around most UK and AUS cricket grounds by Peiterson...........

  • RakarthIX on July 10, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    Just to point out the steve smith linked to the article is the wrong steve smith

  • brusselslion on July 10, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    Damn. Have seen nothing of Agar but he can't be as bad as Lyon, so that's a negative from an English perspective. Still, the Aussies have kept Hughes in so that's a positive.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Lyon's figures are actually excellent for a finger spinner at the beginning of his career. They're better than Benaud's at the start of his career, he deserves to be persisted with.

    It looks like Cowan will bat at 3. It's the Australian tradition to have a number 3 who can make big scores and dominate an attack. Lets hope Cowan has improved his batting in the last few days, I'm not convinced he can cut it at test level let alone at 3.

  • sifter132 on July 10, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    Swap Hughes and Cowan and I'd be pretty happy.

  • PFEL on July 10, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    I like the Aus team for the most part. My only disagreement, and it disgusts me, is the selection of Cowan at no. 3. It's a genuinely terrible selection, picking him ahead of Warner, Khawaja and even Wade would be a better batting choice.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    Good luck to the lad, has plenty of talent, lets see if he has the head for it!

  • Charlie101 on July 10, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Like the last series they selected a left arm spinner Doherty / Beer with a view to getting Pieterson and it back fired . Incredible selection not to back Lyons

  • disco_bob on July 10, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Tough on Lyon, but nerveless faith from the selectors. Could this Ashes throw up the new Ball Of The Century

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    That was right out of left field! This is one of those decisions where everyone will be patting each other on the back if it all turns out well, or it will be quietly pushed under the rug if he doesn't perform. Can't help but think about poor Bryce McGain here....

  • 5wombats on July 10, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    So - all this big talk about Lyon.... and then he is summarily dropped. Nice one Aussie.

  • Wefinishthis on July 10, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Should have been O'Keefe 3 years ago and still should be, but I don't mind Agar, although I think he needed another season in FC to prove himself first. Still, of the only four spinners who deserve to have their named mentioned for tests (O'keefe, Lyon, Agar and Zampa), I don't mind giving Agar a go, although I wouldn't expect him to set the world on fire.

  • thebrotherswaugh on July 10, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    So yet another vote of no-confidence in the incumbent Aussie test spinner - I hope it turns out to be a brilliant call, but I doubt it - another reactive call based upon the number of right-handers in the opposition squad. I just hope our batsmen show some fight and make a contest of it. Siddle will lead the attack as always and trouble the Poms - but I expect Anderson will do the same for them. Swann may well prove to be the real difference between the two teams - he will contibue to trouble most of our fellas, with Clarke and Smith (a good inclusion) offering our best resistance. Siddle might also get in the top three of Oz batting averages by the end of the series.

  • Clan_McLachlan on July 10, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    Last minute panic. Australia have already lost the mental game.

  • jainaniket24 on July 10, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Cricinfo playing games....Ashton Agar not available for selection in fantasy cricket team!

  • Jaffa79 on July 10, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Lyon will never come back from this...

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Welcome to test cricket Ashton. Congrats. mate. Bamboozle the Poms.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 10, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Every Ashes sees another Australian 'Spinner' have his career ended by England. Usually they last a few Ashes tests. This time England have ended Lyon's tenure before the Ashes have even begun! Brilliant!

  • Tyrion_1645 on July 10, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Interesting call. Such intrepid decisions from Leheman may give Australia some chance in this series. I still believe that they have an amazing bowling attack. I think it is going to be a tough fight between the two countries although England are deemed as favorites.

    Excited about this series!

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Really feel sorry for Lyon. he deserves better, besides a troublefree orthodox action( rarity these days) he also happens to be a wonderful fielder in the outfield. India tried Yuvraj and later Ravindra Jadeja to exploit KP's weakness against left arm spin with disastrous result, you play against a team not one guy.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Mua-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha. (I reserve the right do withdraw that evil laugh if he takes 10 wickets).

    The selectors really do seem to *hate* Lyon.

  • Bockee on July 10, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Geez. This is madness, right out of the Andrew Hilditch school of mismanagement.

    Nathan Lyon is the best spinner we have, followed by Steve O'Keefe. He continues to be underrated (compare his stats to Swann over the last 2 years) and I was looking forward to him doing some damage during the Ashes. Agar needed 2-5 years to develop, now they're throwing him in the cauldron and chucking Lyon out at the same time.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on July 10, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    This has again left the batters off the hook. The bowling should not be weakened to help them out. This series was time for them to stand up and be counted. Its gotten so bad for Australian cricket that our spinners are getting picked based on batting Agar is very talented and may have a huge future. But at 19 and only started playing first class 7 months ago is a huge gamble. The gamble to take should have been Bird in and Siddle out. The person I really feel for is Steve O'Keefe- consistent bowling over last 3 years, could be vice captain in an ideal world, good batsman, left arm spinner etc etc. Just what they are picking Ashton for. So now he has been left behind for Lyon, Doherty and now Agar. If I was him I would be looking at my family tree to see if he has NZ ancestry or any other country that would pick him.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Wow , didnt see that one coming.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    i am eagerly waiting for these matches... hope ausies win

  • SirBobJones on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    "Unlike Doherty, Agar is a capable batsman and also a fine fielder.". Tad harsh.

  • C.Gull on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Yeah but Lyon is a very capable bat as well. I've never been his number one fan but I feel for him as I felt for Hauritz. I don't think either of them deserved to be dropped.

  • milepost on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Awesome call by Lehmann. Really exciting to see what he can do and a surprise for England. Love the Ashes!

  • Bloody_Hell on July 10, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    WOW...I thought if Oz played two spinners he may have a shot....but wow. I'll tell you at the end of the test what I think of this!

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    i knew it i made the comment before,as end contains all right handers at top except cook,it was expected,he could bring surprises,get ready guys it Ashes,history is made here,I am an Indian,But when you are a cricket lovers,nothing is bigger than Ashes test's

  • RandyOZ on July 10, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Unbelievable, but I am not against it. Good call Boof!

  • paapam on July 10, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    Always exciting to hear of a young debut. 19 is very young outside the sub-continent. Best of luck Ashton.

  • Nigels on July 10, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    Hahahaha Pietersen is going to have a field day...

  • TrevorHickman on July 10, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    A desperate move. Unfortunately the poor lad's confidence is going to be shattered by the end of the game. At least he hasn't got into the losing habit like the rest of the squad. Bring it on!!!

  • TrevorHickman on July 10, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    A desperate move. Unfortunately the poor lad's confidence is going to be shattered by the end of the game. At least he hasn't got into the losing habit like the rest of the squad. Bring it on!!!

  • Nigels on July 10, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    Hahahaha Pietersen is going to have a field day...

  • paapam on July 10, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    Always exciting to hear of a young debut. 19 is very young outside the sub-continent. Best of luck Ashton.

  • RandyOZ on July 10, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Unbelievable, but I am not against it. Good call Boof!

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    i knew it i made the comment before,as end contains all right handers at top except cook,it was expected,he could bring surprises,get ready guys it Ashes,history is made here,I am an Indian,But when you are a cricket lovers,nothing is bigger than Ashes test's

  • Bloody_Hell on July 10, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    WOW...I thought if Oz played two spinners he may have a shot....but wow. I'll tell you at the end of the test what I think of this!

  • milepost on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Awesome call by Lehmann. Really exciting to see what he can do and a surprise for England. Love the Ashes!

  • C.Gull on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Yeah but Lyon is a very capable bat as well. I've never been his number one fan but I feel for him as I felt for Hauritz. I don't think either of them deserved to be dropped.

  • SirBobJones on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    "Unlike Doherty, Agar is a capable batsman and also a fine fielder.". Tad harsh.

  • on July 10, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    i am eagerly waiting for these matches... hope ausies win