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

Agar restricted, Smith renewed


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

  • Rod 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.

  • Pulkit 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.

  • John 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.

  • Tom 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?

  • Nicholas 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...

  • Rajkumar 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..

  • John 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.

  • Bob 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.

  • Rishab 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

  • Rishab 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.