05/03/2024

Ashton Agar is seeking a third-consecutive BBL title with the Scorchers (Photo: cricket.com.au Image Design: Madeline Irwin)

Ashton Agar’s Perth Scorchers have been one of the most dominant teams in domestic cricket, but the lure of a three-peat makes him hungrier than ever.

The all-rounder has been a member of the Scorchers since BBL|03, who have won five championships in that 10-year span. Winning the last two titles, Agar tells The Inner Sanctum they would be foolish to settle for less than a three-peat. 

“That’s the hard part when you have won a lot [of titles], it would be really silly to rest on that because the game is moving so quickly,” Agar tells The Inner Sanctum

“Everyone around the country is trying to get better. Young guys are coming in and the things that they’ve learned growing up means that they’re way ahead already of the older guys.

“So we’ve got to try and build on what we did last year.” 

Last season’s final against the Brisbane Heat showcased the instant impact one of the rising stars of Australian cricket is having on the domestic competition. With the Scorchers needing 176 to secure their fifth title, Ashton Turner was run out for 53 with three overs remaining.

It seemed hopes of going back-to-back were squandered, however an enigmatic knock from 19-year-old Cooper Connolly saw the Scorchers chase down the target with four balls remaining. Connolly belted 25 off 11 deliveries in the win, while Hobson held his own down the other end with an unbeaten 18 off seven. 

Agar says the youngster’s ability to produce a match-winning knock in a final is a testament to the environment fostered by the organisation. 

“The environment people (like Connolly) come into [make them] feel super empowered,” he says. 

“We don’t want to change the way Cooper plays. He is a very natural player and we saw that in the final. He goes out on the biggest stage in the country at the time … and wins a game.

“We create that environment where people can go out and express themselves. I think that’s the important part rather than moulding them into a certain style of play.” 

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For so long, the key to success for the Perth Scorchers was their ability to defend low totals. It was only fitting the WACA was temporarily named ‘The Furnace’ during the Scorchers’ stint at the ground, as their opponents would melt under pressure. 

Now, their mentality has shifted. In the last three seasons, the Scorchers have averaged over 155 runs per game in each season, a feat they only reached once in their first nine seasons. The change is something that helps to provide a spectacle for the fans according to Agar. 

“We used to be a defending team,” he says.

“We felt like we could defend anything about six years ago. Now, we’re setting massive totals and chasing down big scores because we’re playing a really aggressive style of cricket which is really exciting for the fans.”

The left-arm spinner looked destined to be included in Australia’s squad for the Cricket World Cup but was ruled out with a calf injury. Similar to that of the Scorchers, Agar says he enjoys representing his country because of the environment they have established.

“I love playing for Australia purely because of the environment that has been created. There’s a lot of autonomy within the group,” he says.

“You have the opportunity to really earn your space and be professional within that, that’s the expectation.

“It’s always team first. Make that decision and do it your way in the best interest of the team.”

He believes the way to having a successful Big Bash campaign and earning national selection again is to continuously improve all facets of his game. While the 30-year-old is working on his batting and bowling, he is also fixing the way that he conducts himself off-field. 

“[I need to] keep looking for ways to improve,” he says.

“I want to bowl at any stage of the innings. I’ve been able to bowl in the powerplay a bit more recently and I really like that. I really like that swinging arm ball and making it difficult for batters because I think it’s a real wicket-taking option.”

“With my batting, I’m always struggling to find ways to finish innings [so it’s about] making little technical changes here and there.”

“But I think for me now as well, I spend a lot of time [focusing on] my recovery and professionalism because the more I stay on the field, the more I feel I can add to the team.” 

The Perth Scorchers will begin their BBL|13 campaign on 10 December when they travel to Geelong to take on the Melbourne Renegades. 

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