Ashton Agar speaks out after 'insult' sparks Aussie cricket furore
The discarded Aussie bowler has addressed the uproar around his treatment in India.
Ashton Agar has opened up about his bitterly disappointing tour of India, after arriving home to Perth having played no part in the first two matches. Agar is one of a number of Aussie players to have been sent home in the wake of the humiliating second Test defeat to India in Delhi, that saw the home side retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy with two matches remaining.
Agar went into the series as an incumbent spinner alongside Nathan Lyon, but was overlooked for the first Test as Todd Murphy was handed his Test debut. The West Australian was then brutally overlooked again for the second Test, with Australia opting to fly in another uncapped spinner in Matt Kuhnemann to play as the third spin-bowling option, in a move described as an "insult" by Aussie great Adam Gilchrist.
'UNREAL': James Anderson tops Pat Cummins in staggering 87-year first
ANGRY: Smith's dressing room blow-up comes to light after second Test disaster
'WHAT A JOKE': Cricket world rages at 'pathetic' Aussie women's farce
The 29-year-old appeared to be Australia's second choice spinner when he played in the SCG Test against South Africa in January, but some scratchy form in that match, coupled with some worrying signs in the nets in India, saw Aussie selectors rethink their spin strategy completely.
Fellow Aussie cricket legend and former Test captain Mark Taylor was also critical of the way Agar was treated in India and suggested his brutal snub might signal the end of the 29-year-old's Test career. "I don't know what his future is as a Test player. They picked him for the Sydney Test, which I thought was a good selection because they were thinking about the series in India. But then they didn't pick him in India. So I don't see what sort of future he has left," Taylor told Wide World of Sports.
"It's particularly worrying for Ashton Agar if he does harbour hopes of playing Test cricket again. If he was younger you'd say, 'Well, he can come back from this', but right now I'm struggling to see how he can put this behind him and play Test cricket again... I've got no doubt now that the selectors will be looking at the development of Matthew Kuhnemann as a left-arm spinner, so I don't know where that leaves Agar."
Ashton Agar's classy response to Test snub
To Agar's credit though, he says there is "no bitterness" towards Aussie selectors or around his unfortunate predicament. Having arrived back in Perth on Thursday, Agar said he was just happy to do what's best for the Aussie team, insisting that communication with selectors around his role was always clear.
“It’s not an ideal situation but you just try and make the best of it,” Agar said. “I’m 29 now and been through plenty of ups and downs in the game. I’m in a fortunate position so it’s nothing that stresses me out too much.
“There was really clear messaging, they communicated with me and it’s a clear path forward with that message, it’s chin up, walk tall and try and improve. There’s no bitterness around this sort of stuff any more, that’s an old school mentality. I just try and give as much as I can and help where I can.”
Selector Tony Dodemaide justified the decision to ultimately send Agar home after suggesting that he didn't pose as much threat to the India batters as the other spinners in Australia's squad. Agar - who is set to return to India for a one-day series starting in March - said his chances were not helped by a lack of red-ball cricket that's seen him play only a handful of matches in three years for WA, in the longer format of the game.
“It’s been pretty hard for me recently to be fair, I’ve played like three red-ball games in three years,” Agar told Channel 10 in Perth. “It’s hard to expect that part of my game to be in tip-top, perfect shape.
"But I’ll always compete as hard as I can and give as much as I can to a team. It’s just whether I get that chance, I’ll play as well as I can and see what happens.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.