Eng v Aus, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day July 19, 2013

Agar restricted, Smith renewed

22

Injuries have had contrasting effects on Steve Smith and Ashton Agar in the early passages of the Lord's Test. Agar, so free in his movements during his unforgettable debut at Trent Bridge, has been visibly restricted by a hip problem and underwent scans after the first day's play. Smith, meanwhile, revealed he had battled a quad strain for the past 10 days, and thus entered the match raring to bowl after not doing so much in the nets recently.

Australia's physio Alex Kountouris described Agar's difficulties: "Ashton Agar has some left hip pain but has been able to continue bowling. He will bat and is expected to be able to bowl next innings." Agar struggled with his action for most of the day and moved awkwardly in the field. Smith, though, was quite the opposite.

"I haven't been able to bowl for a week and a half in the nets because of a quad injury so I was nice and fresh and it came out naturally. It worked for me," Smith said after his spell of 3 for 18 changed the complexion of day one, at the same time explaining why he was not called on to bowl at Trent Bridge. "I was actually really keen to have a bowl yesterday. I was actually warming up an hour before hand but he [the captain, Michael Clarke] wasn't watching.

"I really enjoy bowling when I am bowling well. I sort of probably put a bit too much pressure on myself when I'm not. That's why I guess having a week and a half off bowling and just coming out and being natural has been good for me."

It was no coincidence that Smith's most productive spell as a legspinner in a Test match took place now. He is classified as a batsman who bowls a little rather than the opposite. Despite ample natural ability to twirl a leg break, Smith has never considered himself a frontline bowler, even if past selection panels have classified him as such.

"I probably wasn't ever an actual spinner," Smith said of making his Test debut as a bowling allrounder at Lord's against Pakistan in 2010. "I was lucky to get that role at that time. I've always seen myself as more of a batter than a bowler so I'm obviously grateful to have played out here as a spinner and taking a few wickets at the same time."

Smith has spoken at various times to Shane Warne down the years, memorising advice about keeping his shoulder high and generating maximum spin. The advice of the new national coach Darren Lehmann has been simpler, but no less valuable.

"Every time he walks past me he says keep bowling at the stumps," Smith said. "That's a pretty simple plan for a spinner. Just try and hit the stumps and let natural variation play its part."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 20, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    SA are the best test team no doubt but are very good at choking in big one day tournaments. Australia are not the same team that they once were. There is no Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh, Martyn, Hussey, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath. Once Waugh left, he was replaced by Michael Clarke, then Martyn left along with Warne, McGrath and Langer, then Gilchrist then Hayden. Finally Ponting and Hussey are gone and you are left with Clarke. There just aren't enough good players in Shield cricket to fill the void left by these greats. Australia have handed out a lot of debuts and the batting is thin, but their bowling is very strong.

  • CapitalMarkets on July 21, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    I have no idea how Rogers missed a slow full toss after having been in an hour but he actually looks more durable than Watson at the top of the Australian order. Watson really needs to stand up as a senior pro and do what it takes to occupy the crease and maintain something approaching unity Clarke. Clarke may not be the most amazing man-manager in the world but at least he could smile yesterday, and with the game gone, at least he had the wisdom not to bowl Harris and Siddle into the ground. I genuinely think they should ask Kaitich back and drop Watson to number 6 where he belongs, Matthew Wade at 7 and Agar (assuming he's fit) at 8). He's a better batsman than Smith. That leaves room for three more specialist bowlers. The top four batsmen should be Kaitich, Rogers, Clarke and Hughes and Australia could then bring in a newcomer (a defensively minded batsman who plays straight would be preferable). I don't know who that would be but it isn't Khawaja, Cowan or Smith.

  • pulkit10 on July 21, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    All that talk of South Africa failing in major tournaments is irrelevant. They had big moments here and they got through them very clinically - the 3rdd Test where they beat England was a pretty clinical display and I suspect the 2nd would have gone the same way had Pietersen not saved them. They also risked losing their #1 position in Australia last year and canned them hard in the 3rd test after a risky first two. Point is, they're a formidable outfit - not invincible but not as fallible as Eng/India were in their brief reigns at the top.

    As for the Aussies - their batting will need to show up next game if they ever want to see the Urn again. Honestly, the best they can do is put up a good display of batting and show that one bad day doesn't mean anything but I have my doubts. Bowling is quality though.

  • landl47 on July 21, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    I hope Agar won't be handed too much responsibility and lose confidence in himself. Of course he shouldn't be compared to Swann, who is 15 years older and vastly more experienced, but when the #1 spinner for one side takes 2-239 in 4 innings and his opposite number takes 9-209 in 3 innings, there's obviously a gap in class.

    Hopefully Agar will treat it as a learning experience and use it to improve. He's a promising young cricketer, but he really shouldn't be in the test side yet.

  • 2MikeGattings on July 20, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    Watching Agar bowl his innocuous over the wicket spin, I was suddenly struck: is he the next Ashley Giles - the prince of Spain?

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 20, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    So why did Australia bring a batsman that can bowl a wee bit, instead of a proper wrist-spinner (that is a must in test cricket) that, well, it doesn't really matter if he can bat or not! 20 wickets needed, not huge batting scores...

  • latecut_04 on July 20, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Time Bresnan batting till lunch broke Australia's back....really cant understand why people blame bowlers for this..they did have a poor day and Aus did have a leather hunt today BUT that was largely due to Aus getting bundled out for 128.Eng top order also keeps failing but Aus collapses mask their failure.Also to give credit to England Bell seems to be in the form of his life and someone or other among batsmen fare well.The fact is barring Anderson Aus bowling may even be better than Eng(FAST bowling)BUT because of lack of runs on the board, bowling looks poorer than it actually is.Needless to say batting is and deserves the 'poor' tag.Being an Indian supporter who has watched bowlers giving away the match to opposition and undoing the great work done by a few batsmen many times I wonder how it must be for Aussie fans,Often let down by batting although bowling is competitve...bit like Pakistan I guess..

  • jmcilhinney on July 20, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    @palavadisuresh on (July 20, 2013, 2:54 GMT), but HotSpot DID detect something when Hughes was dismissed. I'm not sure what some people were looking at but there was a clear mark on the bat after the ball has passed that was not there before and it was at the exact point that the ball would have passed. There was a clear sound in real time and that is backed up by Snicko. Obviously Snicko is not part of DRS but if a noise and HotSpot are not enough to confirm a nick then what is? Some people have claimed that the fact that Hughes reviewed so confidently is evidence that he didn't hit it but that's actually only evidence that he didn't feel what was obviously a very thin edge. We've already seen Root and Clarke say that they didn't feel anything when they edged the ball in game 1 so why not Hughes here? There was also an incident recently where Ian Bell was out LBW and didn't review but replays showed that he'd edged it. You can edge the ball and not feel it, which happened to Hughes.

  • camcove on July 20, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    Ken McCarron suggests that Steve O'Keefe is the best spinner in Australia. In my humble opinion, he is a tidy finger spinner who adds a lot to his team through that and his batting and cricket brain. As a spinner, however, he is clearly behind Holland, Lyon and Agar. The unlucky spinner in Australian cricket is Beer, who would have been picked for India but was injured, and Doherty got the gig. He'll find it difficult, you would think, to make his state team, WA, while Agar is fit and available. I have only seen a little of Ahmed, and he looks like a good leggie. Hopefully, Zampa and Boyce will come on as well. Batting is obviously the problem, and I can't see where the decent test batsmen to come are. At the moment, some with the potential seem to be the Marsh brothers, Doolan, Silk, Burns, Maddinson, Maxwell and Head. Waugh reckons Watto is the key in the current side. Personally I'm sick of seeing him trudge off the field with a look of misery and knowing he's out LBW yet again.

  • popstar22 on July 20, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    Agar needs a bit more experience, and Smith needs to just bowl part-time spin, and they can both bat well

  • on July 20, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    SA are the best test team no doubt but are very good at choking in big one day tournaments. Australia are not the same team that they once were. There is no Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh, Martyn, Hussey, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath. Once Waugh left, he was replaced by Michael Clarke, then Martyn left along with Warne, McGrath and Langer, then Gilchrist then Hayden. Finally Ponting and Hussey are gone and you are left with Clarke. There just aren't enough good players in Shield cricket to fill the void left by these greats. Australia have handed out a lot of debuts and the batting is thin, but their bowling is very strong.

  • CapitalMarkets on July 21, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    I have no idea how Rogers missed a slow full toss after having been in an hour but he actually looks more durable than Watson at the top of the Australian order. Watson really needs to stand up as a senior pro and do what it takes to occupy the crease and maintain something approaching unity Clarke. Clarke may not be the most amazing man-manager in the world but at least he could smile yesterday, and with the game gone, at least he had the wisdom not to bowl Harris and Siddle into the ground. I genuinely think they should ask Kaitich back and drop Watson to number 6 where he belongs, Matthew Wade at 7 and Agar (assuming he's fit) at 8). He's a better batsman than Smith. That leaves room for three more specialist bowlers. The top four batsmen should be Kaitich, Rogers, Clarke and Hughes and Australia could then bring in a newcomer (a defensively minded batsman who plays straight would be preferable). I don't know who that would be but it isn't Khawaja, Cowan or Smith.

  • pulkit10 on July 21, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    All that talk of South Africa failing in major tournaments is irrelevant. They had big moments here and they got through them very clinically - the 3rdd Test where they beat England was a pretty clinical display and I suspect the 2nd would have gone the same way had Pietersen not saved them. They also risked losing their #1 position in Australia last year and canned them hard in the 3rd test after a risky first two. Point is, they're a formidable outfit - not invincible but not as fallible as Eng/India were in their brief reigns at the top.

    As for the Aussies - their batting will need to show up next game if they ever want to see the Urn again. Honestly, the best they can do is put up a good display of batting and show that one bad day doesn't mean anything but I have my doubts. Bowling is quality though.

  • landl47 on July 21, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    I hope Agar won't be handed too much responsibility and lose confidence in himself. Of course he shouldn't be compared to Swann, who is 15 years older and vastly more experienced, but when the #1 spinner for one side takes 2-239 in 4 innings and his opposite number takes 9-209 in 3 innings, there's obviously a gap in class.

    Hopefully Agar will treat it as a learning experience and use it to improve. He's a promising young cricketer, but he really shouldn't be in the test side yet.

  • 2MikeGattings on July 20, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    Watching Agar bowl his innocuous over the wicket spin, I was suddenly struck: is he the next Ashley Giles - the prince of Spain?

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 20, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    So why did Australia bring a batsman that can bowl a wee bit, instead of a proper wrist-spinner (that is a must in test cricket) that, well, it doesn't really matter if he can bat or not! 20 wickets needed, not huge batting scores...

  • latecut_04 on July 20, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Time Bresnan batting till lunch broke Australia's back....really cant understand why people blame bowlers for this..they did have a poor day and Aus did have a leather hunt today BUT that was largely due to Aus getting bundled out for 128.Eng top order also keeps failing but Aus collapses mask their failure.Also to give credit to England Bell seems to be in the form of his life and someone or other among batsmen fare well.The fact is barring Anderson Aus bowling may even be better than Eng(FAST bowling)BUT because of lack of runs on the board, bowling looks poorer than it actually is.Needless to say batting is and deserves the 'poor' tag.Being an Indian supporter who has watched bowlers giving away the match to opposition and undoing the great work done by a few batsmen many times I wonder how it must be for Aussie fans,Often let down by batting although bowling is competitve...bit like Pakistan I guess..

  • jmcilhinney on July 20, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    @palavadisuresh on (July 20, 2013, 2:54 GMT), but HotSpot DID detect something when Hughes was dismissed. I'm not sure what some people were looking at but there was a clear mark on the bat after the ball has passed that was not there before and it was at the exact point that the ball would have passed. There was a clear sound in real time and that is backed up by Snicko. Obviously Snicko is not part of DRS but if a noise and HotSpot are not enough to confirm a nick then what is? Some people have claimed that the fact that Hughes reviewed so confidently is evidence that he didn't hit it but that's actually only evidence that he didn't feel what was obviously a very thin edge. We've already seen Root and Clarke say that they didn't feel anything when they edged the ball in game 1 so why not Hughes here? There was also an incident recently where Ian Bell was out LBW and didn't review but replays showed that he'd edged it. You can edge the ball and not feel it, which happened to Hughes.

  • camcove on July 20, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    Ken McCarron suggests that Steve O'Keefe is the best spinner in Australia. In my humble opinion, he is a tidy finger spinner who adds a lot to his team through that and his batting and cricket brain. As a spinner, however, he is clearly behind Holland, Lyon and Agar. The unlucky spinner in Australian cricket is Beer, who would have been picked for India but was injured, and Doherty got the gig. He'll find it difficult, you would think, to make his state team, WA, while Agar is fit and available. I have only seen a little of Ahmed, and he looks like a good leggie. Hopefully, Zampa and Boyce will come on as well. Batting is obviously the problem, and I can't see where the decent test batsmen to come are. At the moment, some with the potential seem to be the Marsh brothers, Doolan, Silk, Burns, Maddinson, Maxwell and Head. Waugh reckons Watto is the key in the current side. Personally I'm sick of seeing him trudge off the field with a look of misery and knowing he's out LBW yet again.

  • popstar22 on July 20, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    Agar needs a bit more experience, and Smith needs to just bowl part-time spin, and they can both bat well

  • popstar22 on July 20, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    The Aussies are genuinely a good team. They've lost recently to South Africa and India, and are losing to England, but all those teams are higher ranked than them. They can still thrash teams below them. They are just going through a transition period, just like India was between 2011 and 2012.

  • aracer on July 20, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    @palavadisuresh - Hughes wasn't ruled out by 3rd umpire, he was ruled out by on-field umpire and 3rd umpire didn't see enough evidence to overturn the decision. With DRS the 3rd umpire has to have definitive proof that the original decision was wrong (I know it doesn't always work like that, but that's how it's supposed to work). Anyway it would seem that the correct decision was made, which is surely the most important thing?

  • on July 20, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    Agar is a much better bowler than Nathan Lyon who isn't even the best bowler in NSW and will have trouble playing ahead of Steve O"Keefe this summer. O"Kerfe is the best spinner in Australia. As for playing Kenya and the rest, Australia still seems to be too good for Sri Lanka etc who have never beaten them in a test whileIndia have nnever won a test series down under!

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on July 20, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    I don't why my comments about hot spot did not listed, hope this one will. In hughes case (if edged), realiability of hot spot comes under scanner as i said earlier it SOMETIMES does not detect very thin edges. IF NOT HE EDGED, then there is a problem in DRS process. Had umpire ruled huges not out and if eng reviewed, since the hotspot detects nothing, the decision would have simply NOT OUT. But what happenend on the field was complete opposite bcz of onfield umpire's decision.

    Snicko is not part of the drs (sometimes air compression when ball crosses bat mistaken as edges), also hotspot detects nothing.., can anybody tell me why and how hughes ruled out by third umpire? There are lot of issues needs to be addressed in technology and implementing drs. So dont blame always BCCI. I will show atleast 5 failed hotspot cases that happend in england vs srilanka series.

  • Greatest_Game on July 20, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge. I should hope that Eng are not playing their best cricket yet. Then again, after Cook Trott and Pietersen managed a combined 13 runs in their 2nd dig, they could hardly be playing any worse! Trent bridge must have been a chilling deja vu for the whole team. After 20 wickets they could not rustle up between them any more runs than just Smith, Amla and Kallis did in one innings at the Oval a year ago, facing that magician and green track/flat track ball-on-a-string specialist you mention so often - the fellow who managed to dismiss only one tail ender today.

  • nicevans on July 19, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    This series, and the previous series vs Nz is proving how far ahead the proteas are from the rest of world cricket. England really aren't that good, and the aussies are even worse at the moment. From a neutrals perspective it's been a great watch because of the DRS dramas and alike, but the quality of the cricket overall has been poor. Some quality batting from bell, agar and bowling from siddle, harris, anderson, but otherwise ..meh

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 19, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Such is the way with the desperate Australian media, the pretty lucky performance of Agar in the 1st test was a fragile attempt to cover up the cold facts: Australia are losing to a far better team who haven't even started playing their best cricket yet.

  • USIndianFan on July 19, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    Agar is a find. But Australia has become a new WIndies of the early 2000's. Clarke is a lousy captain. Most of the team seems to be technically incompetent (Warner, Watson) and irresponsible. Australia needs to restrict itself to playing Zimbabwe, Kenya and the like I guess. Where did the fight and the discipline go??? Change the captain, transition some key players, bring Katich out of retirement as captain..

  • Chetan007 on July 19, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    I think Nathan Loyon should have been given the chances. In a series like Ashes a genuine spinner would have done a great job than a guy with no international experience. He might have batted well enough in his debut test but his main job is to take wickets. He should have done some good in that than with the bat.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2013, 14:57 GMT

    I hate to think this BUT I feel the Aussie public had blown Agar's once in a lifetime innings of 98 out of proportion. He's not going to do it all the time. He's still a spinner who can bat a bit. Steve Smith on the other hand can be a genuine all rounder if he continues to work hard on his game. Still, I feel sorry for this Aussie team. They have become the next West Indies. Can't see them becoming a force any more in world cricket. They could play well at home but even that is a big 'maybe'.

  • milepost on July 19, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    @truthfnder respectfully disagree. Agar has a swagger about him that I think with a little experience will make him a player you simply can't leave out of the team. I thought he was a brilliant pick and hope they stick with him, he should have had Broad out as well don't forget. 90 odd and a few wickets on debut is not a bad start and having seen a lot of cricket doesn't look like a fluke either.

  • truthfinder on July 19, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Selection of Aston Agar in first test as well as second possibly is the biggest blunder of the Australia team. Notwithstanding the first inning performance which is a pure freak his selection proves that the Aussies are not serious about building their spin strength. The omission of Nathan Leon in couple of tests in India and here is absolutely nonsense. Earlier Australia used get away with this kind of selection by the tremendous performances of established members & worthlessness of the opponents. But since India series they no longer cope with the seriousness and intensity of the opponents along with very sound non influential umpiring system (DRS) . Australia must invest more in their spin bowlers and give them longer opportunities even if they are not match winner to get at least next Greig Mathews. They must come out of the day-dream of getting another Shane Warne from some corner and keep throwing kinds to the ring!

  • truthfinder on July 19, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Selection of Aston Agar in first test as well as second possibly is the biggest blunder of the Australia team. Notwithstanding the first inning performance which is a pure freak his selection proves that the Aussies are not serious about building their spin strength. The omission of Nathan Leon in couple of tests in India and here is absolutely nonsense. Earlier Australia used get away with this kind of selection by the tremendous performances of established members & worthlessness of the opponents. But since India series they no longer cope with the seriousness and intensity of the opponents along with very sound non influential umpiring system (DRS) . Australia must invest more in their spin bowlers and give them longer opportunities even if they are not match winner to get at least next Greig Mathews. They must come out of the day-dream of getting another Shane Warne from some corner and keep throwing kinds to the ring!

  • milepost on July 19, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    @truthfnder respectfully disagree. Agar has a swagger about him that I think with a little experience will make him a player you simply can't leave out of the team. I thought he was a brilliant pick and hope they stick with him, he should have had Broad out as well don't forget. 90 odd and a few wickets on debut is not a bad start and having seen a lot of cricket doesn't look like a fluke either.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2013, 14:57 GMT

    I hate to think this BUT I feel the Aussie public had blown Agar's once in a lifetime innings of 98 out of proportion. He's not going to do it all the time. He's still a spinner who can bat a bit. Steve Smith on the other hand can be a genuine all rounder if he continues to work hard on his game. Still, I feel sorry for this Aussie team. They have become the next West Indies. Can't see them becoming a force any more in world cricket. They could play well at home but even that is a big 'maybe'.

  • Chetan007 on July 19, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    I think Nathan Loyon should have been given the chances. In a series like Ashes a genuine spinner would have done a great job than a guy with no international experience. He might have batted well enough in his debut test but his main job is to take wickets. He should have done some good in that than with the bat.

  • USIndianFan on July 19, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    Agar is a find. But Australia has become a new WIndies of the early 2000's. Clarke is a lousy captain. Most of the team seems to be technically incompetent (Warner, Watson) and irresponsible. Australia needs to restrict itself to playing Zimbabwe, Kenya and the like I guess. Where did the fight and the discipline go??? Change the captain, transition some key players, bring Katich out of retirement as captain..

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 19, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Such is the way with the desperate Australian media, the pretty lucky performance of Agar in the 1st test was a fragile attempt to cover up the cold facts: Australia are losing to a far better team who haven't even started playing their best cricket yet.

  • nicevans on July 19, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    This series, and the previous series vs Nz is proving how far ahead the proteas are from the rest of world cricket. England really aren't that good, and the aussies are even worse at the moment. From a neutrals perspective it's been a great watch because of the DRS dramas and alike, but the quality of the cricket overall has been poor. Some quality batting from bell, agar and bowling from siddle, harris, anderson, but otherwise ..meh

  • Greatest_Game on July 20, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge. I should hope that Eng are not playing their best cricket yet. Then again, after Cook Trott and Pietersen managed a combined 13 runs in their 2nd dig, they could hardly be playing any worse! Trent bridge must have been a chilling deja vu for the whole team. After 20 wickets they could not rustle up between them any more runs than just Smith, Amla and Kallis did in one innings at the Oval a year ago, facing that magician and green track/flat track ball-on-a-string specialist you mention so often - the fellow who managed to dismiss only one tail ender today.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on July 20, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    I don't why my comments about hot spot did not listed, hope this one will. In hughes case (if edged), realiability of hot spot comes under scanner as i said earlier it SOMETIMES does not detect very thin edges. IF NOT HE EDGED, then there is a problem in DRS process. Had umpire ruled huges not out and if eng reviewed, since the hotspot detects nothing, the decision would have simply NOT OUT. But what happenend on the field was complete opposite bcz of onfield umpire's decision.

    Snicko is not part of the drs (sometimes air compression when ball crosses bat mistaken as edges), also hotspot detects nothing.., can anybody tell me why and how hughes ruled out by third umpire? There are lot of issues needs to be addressed in technology and implementing drs. So dont blame always BCCI. I will show atleast 5 failed hotspot cases that happend in england vs srilanka series.

  • on July 20, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    Agar is a much better bowler than Nathan Lyon who isn't even the best bowler in NSW and will have trouble playing ahead of Steve O"Keefe this summer. O"Kerfe is the best spinner in Australia. As for playing Kenya and the rest, Australia still seems to be too good for Sri Lanka etc who have never beaten them in a test whileIndia have nnever won a test series down under!