16/04/2024

Ashton Agar is ready to lead Australia to the very end of the upcoming T20 World Cup. (Photo: Cricket Australia)

Ashton Agar's body of work in recent times as a limited-overs spinner has him raring to make an impact in Australia's upcoming T20 World Cup.

Although the T20 World Cup may have crept up on many in the cricket world, it’s been on the radar for a long time for Australia’s Ashton Agar.

The left-arm spinner has worked hard at his limited overs game to achieve selection in the Aussie squad, and is expected to play a big role as one of the main spinners in the team alongside leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

With Mitchell Swepson also in the squad, Agar hasn’t ruled out the possibility of all three spinners playing together in spin-friendly UAE conditions.

“It’s definitely a possibility, obviously it’s all dependent on the surfaces we get,” Agar said.

“It was fun to have all three spinners playing in Bangladesh, it made a really good impact on the game.”

Agar, who is known best for his record-breaking test debut in the 2013 Ashes series where he plundered a remarkable 98 from the number 11 spot, has changed a lot since his whirlwind introduction to international cricket eight years ago.

Having matured as a cricketer and a person, he holds a more measured outlook on playing cricket at the highest level.

Ahead of a clutch tournament where Australia have historically failed to progress far, he is as confident as ever about what he can contribute to his country’s cause.

“It’s really hard to describe what it is, I’m just open to what’s happening out in the middle, I’m enjoying trying new things,” Agar said.

“I’m really just trying to display my skills while I’m playing the game, not looking to minimise damage but looking to maximise potential and help the team win as many games as possible with what I can bring to the table.

“It’s a lot of fun when the international arena turns into your playground and it’s that feeling you have when you’re a kid playing at home, there’s no fear, there’s just an openness to what could go right.”

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This relaxed approach to the T20 World Cup has led Agar to not fuss too much about what pitch conditions may be like in the UAE, with current Australian teammates playing in the IPL, such as Nathan Coulter-Nile, have said the low-bouncing pitches have begun to tire.

Regardless of what Agar and his teammates have come to expect from UAE pitches, the West Australian won’t be entering the competition with any pre-conceived expectations.

“I think it would be dangerous to go in there with a solid expectation, obviously the wickets have been a bit low and slow, but I think we’ll get some fresh wickets, so we’ll get somewhere in between the IPL wickets and the fresher style of wickets,” he said.

“I’ve heard that they’re getting pretty tired, which is really good news as a spinner, selfishly we love those conditions.”

Agar has an open mind on the eve of the tournament, as he admits that nothing has changed in terms of shouldering the responsibility of trying to win matches for his nation.

He finds this expectation “really fun”, and enjoys “feeling like an important member in a side”. Many may shy away from the limelight that an international tournament brings, but Agar is adamant he can see “every ball as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the game”.

He also firmly supported beleaguered coach Justin Langer, who has come under criticism this year for being too harsh and unfair while at the helm of the Australian side.

Despite the negative feedback handed out to Langer, Agar believes his former coach at Western Australia deserves more respect for the way he has handled himself in trying times.

“To still be here and to listen to the feedback, to be dragged through the media while you’re in quarantine, all of these different things, you can’t help but respect that,” Agar said.

“We have to have a bit of understanding about how horrible that must have been and respect someone for coming out of that and still doing their best.”

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