Aussie cricket great Adam Gilchrist has labelled Australia's treatment of Ashton Agar an 'insult' after he was leapfrogged by Matthew Kuhnemann during the tour of India. Agar appeared to be Australia's second spinner when he played in the SCG Test against South Africa in January.
He was then picked alongside Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson and Todd Murphy in a four-pronged spin attack in Australia's squad for India. However his efforts in the SCG Test, coupled with some worrying signs in the nets in India, saw Aussie selectors rethink their spin strategy completely.
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Murphy was picked for his Test debut in the first match in Nagpur, and Kuhnemann was flown over from Australia when Swepson went home to be at the birth of his first child. With Australia opting to play three spinners in the second match in Delhi, many thought Agar would be picked.
But the Aussies went with fellow left-armer Kuhnemann instead, showing just how out of favour Agar is with selectors. With Swepson set to return for the final two matches of the series, Australia are reportedly considering sending Agar home so he can get some match practice in the Sheffield Shield instead.
Speaking about the situation on Monday, Gilchrist said it was an 'insult' to Agar that Kuhnemann had gone straight into the XI when he wasn't even picked in the original squad. “There’s been murmurings that (Agar) might be on a flight home because he might feel like he’s surplus to requirements over there and I can understand why, without being in the camp and knowing the finer details of why he wasn’t picked,” Gilchrist said on SEN radio.
“But it’s a pretty big insult that I know from touring and being on a lot of tours, you felt that if you’re picked on the tour in a broader squad - unless it’s a pretty extreme like for like that has to come in - you generally expected the guys that were first reserves to step in. So that’s a bit of a body blow for him I would imagine. I haven’t spoken to him … it’ll be interesting to see what he does, whether he’s brought into contention.”
Ashton Agar and Matt Renshaw likely to return to Australia
Agar's spot in the squad is one of a number of decisions the Aussies will look at in the coming days before the third Test on March 1. Matt Renshaw could also be a candidate to fly home, with Cameron Green likely to take his place in the middle order after recovering from a finger injury.
West Australian bowler Lance Morris will also likely return to Australia to play Shield cricket, while Josh Hazlewood has already been ruled out for the remainder of the tour and will fly home. David Warner could join them after suffering a concussion and fractured elbow during the second Test.
"We're working through that (squad changes) so it won't be form as such but there's cricket going on back home," Australia coach Andrew McDonald said on Monday. "With a few players now becoming fit and available, are we carrying too many?
"We've got to be clear on what we want to achieve in the next two Test matches in terms of the structure of the team. There's an opportunity for players to be playing cricket back home and we value that. It won't be form related, it'd be more we want our players playing where they can be and not just being carried around in kit bags, in particular when there's cricket going on back home."
Captain Pat Cummins has flown home due to a serious family illness. However he is expected to be back in time for the third Test in Indore.
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