Matches (10)
MLC (2)
ENG v WI (1)
WCL 2 (1)
Asia Cup (4)
LPL (1)
BAN-A vs PAK-A (1)
News

'Everything pointed towards Agar' - Marsh on Starc's omission against Afghanistan

Coach Andrew McDonald also stands by the decision: "Ashton was suited to these conditions and we needed to make room"

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
23-Jun-2024
Australia's captain and coach defended the "tough decision" to leave Mitchell Starc out for their defeat to Afghanistan, which has left them reliant on other results ahead of their final Super Eight fixture against India in St Lucia on Monday.
On a slow, turning pitch in St Vincent, Australia opted to play only two frontline seamers - Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood - and brought Ashton Agar into the side in Starc's place, as a second specialist spinner alongside Adam Zampa. Agar bowled tidily, taking 0 for 17 in his four overs, but Afghanistan's 118-run opening stand brought Starc's absence as a new-ball strike bowler into focus.
"It's always a tough decision to leave Mitch Starc out of a team," Andrew McDonald, Australia's coach said. "But from the way that the game unfolded, Ashton was suited to these conditions and we needed to make room. We knew we were going to need more than eight overs of spin on that surface and it's probably something we've been planning and preparing for once we knew we were at this venue.
"It's always a difficult decision. You never know whether you're right or wrong, but I thought Ashton bowled incredibly well today, used his skill, some good arm-balls, found some purchase early and he made it tricky to navigate through those first few overs. We got two [overs] out [of him] in the powerplay which then set up the bowling for that end with him and Zamps operating. Unfortunately, we weren't able to take those early wickets."
Mitchell Marsh, Australia's captain, said Starc had been "unlucky" to miss out but added: "We've said right from the start of the tournament that we've got 15 guys here, and we'll pick a team that we think can win us the game in those certain conditions, and everything pointed towards Ash… The reality is, when you've got this much talent, someone's always unlucky to miss out."
Despite Agar's two tight powerplay overs, Afghanistan made a steady start to their innings, scoring 40 for 0 in the first six. It stood in contrast to Australia's own start, losing Travis Head, David Warner and Marsh himself to be 33 for 3 after six. But Marsh insisted: "I don't think the game was won or lost in the powerplay tonight."
McDonald said that there was no point trying to work out what might have happened if Starc had been selected against Afghanistan, and said that conditions in St Vincent had been as Australia expected. They had long earmarked the game as a potential scare given the strength of Afghanistan's spin attack and the nature of the pitch at the Arnos Vale Ground.
"When you're hopping around the islands, the conditions change dramatically, and we got what we expected," McDonald said. "I was comfortable with that decision and now we've got to turn our focus to India: a totally different line-up on a totally different surface, and we've got to make good decisions at the selection table.
"That's part of the art of navigating through a World Cup, to get those decisions right - and you can't play the same game twice. You can't put Mitchell Starc in there, or Nathan Ellis, and work out what the game would have looked like. We went to Ash and backed him in, and we've got full trust in whoever we call on in that 15 to get a job done and we've got a task ahead."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98