Ashton Agar’s response to being dropped halfway through the tour of India and being snubbed for backups Todd Murphy and Matt Kuhnemann has been praised as “pure class”, and a “lesson in how to conduct yourself when things are not going your way.”
Agar arrived back in Australia on Thursday as the only left-arm spinner picked in the initial Australian squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but was left on the sidelines as selectors parachuted in Matt Kuhnemann, despite Agar’s previous experience at Test level.
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At 29, the snub could make it hard for Agar to get back in the Test team, given he’s slipped down the pecking order but he was circumspect about where he sits.
“It’s not an ideal situation but you just try and make the best of it,” Agar said at Perth Airport.
“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 said Agar had “worked his backside off” in India but they didn’t feel he posed as much of a threat to India’s batters as Kuhnemann.
For Agar’s mentor Sridharan Sriram, the challenge for Agar was in replicating his action over an entire day’s play, rather than the four to ten overs required in the white ball fixtures where he has had so much success.
“I think the challenge for him always lies in holding his action together through a long period of time,” Sriram said ahead of the tour.
“In a 20 or 25 over day, is he able to hold his action for a long period of time?
“He’s someone who can lose his action even in the day between spells.”
Agar, who will return to India in Australia’s ODI team for a series in March, said a lack of red-ball games in recent years didn’t help his cause.
“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.”
The West Australian was confident he had the resilience to keep pushing his national cause.
“I do feel like I am pretty resilient and try and front up every day with a smile on my face and be part of a team,” Agar said.
“Going go India is really hard, individually it‘s hard and it’s bloody hard as a team especially against that team at the moment, they are unbelievable.
“I think controlling my attitude had been a strength of mine over the last few years and I am certainly enjoying my cricket a lot more because of that.
“You definitely bounce back a little quickly from setbacks.”
Former Test captain Mark Taylor believes the end is nigh for the left-armer, telling Wide World of Sports he was “not sure what future (Agar) has left.”
“If they’re not picking him in India, I’m not sure how they can pick him again,” Taylor said.
“He’s been around for a long time now.
“He’s not a spring chicken.”
– With NCA Newswire