Ashton Agar Opens Up about his Decision to Withdraw from India Test Tour and One-Day World Cup: A Deeper Insight into His Move

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Ashton Agar Clears Up Mystery Surrounding Shock Departure from Test Tour

Published on July 25, 2023


Ashton Agar has cleared up the mystery surrounding his shock departure from the Indian Test tour earlier this year, declaring: “I did not unselect myself.”

Whispers and Speculation

So bizarre were the circumstances surrounding Agar going from incumbent second spinner at the SCG to flying home from India after two Tests, whispers began to circulate that he had voluntarily gone to selectors to express concerns about his form and confidence leading into the first Test.

It was difficult to comprehend how else selectors could justify a stunning mid-tour decision to parachute in Matthew Kuhnemann from Brisbane to replace the fully fit left-armer already in the squad, without it being, as Test great Adam Gilchrist described, a “pretty big insult” to Agar.

“His red-ball game is not quite where he wants it to be,” Australian selector Tony Dodemaide said at the time, adding to the intrigue.

Comeback in ODI

Agar has now re-emerged a key pillar in Australia‘s quest for World Cup glory, after making a clutch matchwinning 48 not out in the first ODI against South Africa on Friday morning, coming to the crease at No. 9 with his side in peril at 7-113 chasing 222 for victory.

But as Agar prepares to return to India for next month’s World Cup, the spin star has set the record straight on what really happened: praising the transparency and communication of selectors while at the same time making it emphatically clear he was desperate to play in India and believes he could have done the job for his country.

Honest Communication

“I wasn’t bowling horribly (in the nets), in fact I was bowling OK, but I think they expected it to be more, or better than it was. And that was the communication and the feedback was, it’s probably not where it needs to be,” Agar told this masthead.

“Obviously I would always say I’ll compete as hard as I can no matter what. But I also wasn’t going to sit there and say, ‘nah, it’s going great,’ when it’s not. I said, ‘yeah, it’s not ideal but I’m trying as hard as I can and I’ll give all I can in a game.

“I said, ‘I do not want to not select myself (by being honest).’ I was very clear about that and they were very clear about that as well. They were like, ‘you’re not unselecting yourself.’ I said, ‘is this you telling me I’m not (playing),’ and they were like, ‘yep.’

“The conversation was really good. It was really open with Andrew McDonald and Tony Dodemaide. It was like, ‘we don’t think it (your bowling) is where it needs to be. We’re going to shift from what it was going to be the first Test, see how it goes and go from there.

“I definitely didn’t go to them. That certainly wasn’t the case. The conversation was not initiated by me.

“There was plenty of honesty there but like I said, I would have loved to have had a go and seen what could happen, because you never know what happens when you get out into a game.

“Sometimes it brings out the absolute best in you and I think playing (as opposed to net bowling) does bring out the best in me.”

Criticism and Adversity

Selectors might have nailed the decision to blood seven-wicket debutant Todd Murphy in the first Test, but Australia was still exposed for not picking a left-arm spinner in a Nagpur as counterpart Ravindra Jadeja ran riot for India.

Then, instead of correcting that oversight by bringing Agar in for the second Test, selectors snubbed him for Kuhnemann from outside the original squad, a move slammed on principle by Gilchrist and former Test spinner, Nathan Hauritz – who said it was unfair to judge Agar on net form.

However, the always mature and gracious Agar said as disappointed as he was, he could not fault selectors on their communication with him.

“And you can live with that. Yes, you’d like your chance but it didn’t happen and I know being bitter about that stuff doesn’t work. I don’t want to live bitter. I just want to get on with it,” Agar said.

Future Opportunities

And bouncing back is something the ultra-resilient Agar has continued to do throughout his entire career.

Ten years on from his legendary Ashes Test debut where he scored 98 batting at No. 11, Agar is about to become a first-time father and will rush home from the current ODI series in South Africa to be there for the birth.

A man that’s always had life in perspective even from the moment he became a household name from nowhere aged 19, Agar has so much to play for on and off the field.

“It’s the greatest thing ever, just to be a dad, it’s so exciting,” Agar said.

“I’m sure it will hit me like a ton of bricks when I see the baby for the first time.”

The Indian Test tour is ancient history and Agar now has a fresh shot at a crowning career moment if he can help inspire Australia’s one-day World Cup side to victory next month.

Key Player for World Cup

Long required to play second fiddle to Adam Zampa in the white-ball set-up despite an outstanding T20 international record of his own, an ODI World Cup on Indian soil presents a golden opportunity for Agar to step out from the shadows and play a vital role in a duel spin attack.

“He’s going to be super important,” teammate Marcus Stoinis – an IPL veteran as well versed as anyone on white ball pitches in India – told this masthead.

“I think in India it’s going to be a case of we play two spin on probably most tracks there and his batting is going to be as important as anything as well, and his fielding – he’s one of the best fields in our team.

“His attitude and his white ball cricket speaks for itself and I think he’ll be looking forward to showing his stuff this World Cup.”

A Promising Start

And Agar has already made the ideal start, with his superb all-round skills sealing victory for Australia in their first unofficial World Cup warm-up in South Africa.

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