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Ashton Agar: 'Trying to be as adaptable and usable as possible'

The allrounder spent time working on his lower-order hitting ahead of the West Indies tour

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
07-Jul-2021
Ashton Agar's primary role in Australia's T20I team is with the ball, but he knows contributing with the bat is key to the balance of the side and adds to his value.
Though he opened in the first intra-squad match on Monday - falling to Josh Hazlewood for 6 - Agar primarily finds himself around No. 7 in the order when part of a full team and admitted it's a role he has found "quite hard" with usually only a few deliveries to make an impact and a requirement to find the boundary straightaway. His T20I strike-rate is underwhelming at 112.82 and exactly how he fits into the middle order is part of one of the key questions facing the Australia side in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup.
"It's tough, I find it quite hard, if I'm being honest, coming in down the order," he said. "It's a tough ask for anyone, but that's the role I'm there to play and I've been working really hard to try and get better at it, and I've identified a few areas.
"Playing the pull shot is a really important shot to have and getting better at hitting slower balls. You don't often get two balls in the same spot, the same speed, there's a lot of variation coming your way and you have to make the most of those deliveries. But it's not always so easy."
Ahead of this tour, Agar was focusing strongly on expanding his repertoire of shots, spending time with friend and batting coach Viv Paver in Western Australia.
"He just seems to have a really good eye for how I bat, but also has some really good ideas of certain swing plans and how coordinating all your movements to give yourself the best chance possible to play any shot or hit the ball to all parts of the ground," Agar said.
However, he believes that one of the key elements is having a clear mind when you take guard and not getting swept up in all the ball-by-ball permutations T20 can create.
"The really hard part is you are looking at the field and it's really easy to think 'he might bowl one of these three deliveries' so you've got that in your head, the pressure could be on," he said. "There's plenty of different things you could think about but the best thing you can ever do is watch the ball as hard as you can. That's the reason you practice hard and train everything so once you are in a game all you have to do is focus on watching the ball and it seems all that practice takes over intuitively."
Agar has been a regular in the T20I side since making his comeback in 2019, missing only last year's series against India because of an injury, and claimed 6 for 30 against New Zealand in Wellington on the previous tour - beating his own record for Australia's best T20I figures - having also taken a five-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, against South Africa in 2020.
Alongside Adam Zampa, he has formed a strong spin pairing which is likely to be a central figure in Australia's plans and could yet be supplement by another legspinner in Mitchell Swepson.
Agar was given the new ball in the intra-squad match, a role he is becoming increasingly comfortable with. "For me, I quite like doing it because it means my game is growing," he said. "As a cricketer I'm just trying to be as adaptable and usable as possible, get as good as I can at everything I can. That's how I look at it."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo