Ashes 2013: Ashton Agar needs time, and lots of it

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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    Ashton Agar receives his Baggy Green from Glenn McGrath (Image: Twitter @CricketAus)

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    The glee written all over Ashton Agar’s face said more than a thousand words ever could.

    It was panacea for the cricketing sceptic who believed the baggy green cap meant nothing to the modern day cricketer and tonic to the supporter who had painted every current player as a mercenary.

    As Glenn McGrath stepped forward with a green and gold bag in his hand the look on the face of the 19-year-old was similar to one you’d see on the face of a boy 10-years his junior on Christmas morning.

    The left arm spinner only made his first class debut on the 24th of January this year, but had impressed with 31 wickets in 10-matches leading into the first test.

    To describe his inclusion as bold would be an understatement.

    If new coach Darren Lehmann was looking for a way to make his mark on the Australian side then the XI sent into battle at Trent Bridge was a fierce opening shot across the bow of anyone who had grown complacent.

    The decision to drop Nathan Lyon, especially after the off-spinner took nine-wickets in his last test against India in Delhi, seems harsh.

    The South Australian has never really cemented his spot in the Australian side, but has provided a service without being spectacular.

    It’s possible that he too has fallen victim to the “not being Shane Warne” factor, but it’s also more likely Agar was chosen for his ability to take the ball away from the right-hander.

    That opens up the possibility of a horses for courses selection policy, but is that really the best thing for a 19-year-old?

    They didn’t choose him to debut in some meaningless fixture. They threw him straight into the blinding glare of an Ashes series opener.

    It is the most anticipated test in a long time.

    Cricket Australia has made the call to blood him in an arena that has cracked veterans let alone rookies.

    They need to stick by this kid or risk ruining his confidence.

    If the plan isn’t for this to be the start of an extended run in the side then it was the wrong call.

    Spinners, above all else, need time.

    There is no magic formula – especially for a teenager with little to no first class experience.

    It’s fine to be excited by his inclusion and intrigued by what follows, but he’s about to go on a journey where not every day will be easy.

    There’ll be tests where his inclusion will look like a disaster and nothing will go right.

    At these times he’ll need the backing of the coach, captain and selectors more than ever as the public grows restless.

    If they’re patient then they’ll have a better chance of their investment paying big dividends, but if they’re hasty then the post Warne spin circus will continue.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • July 10th 2013 @ 8:55pm
      Jayden said | July 10th 2013 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

      Imadamant that lyon is much better, something we’ll come to see as this game progresses

    • July 10th 2013 @ 9:12pm
      Matlock said | July 10th 2013 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

      Agreed – this is a risky decision in a massive game! I hope he proves me wrong, but I think Lyon deserved the first go at proving himself….

    • July 10th 2013 @ 9:19pm
      Silver_Sovereign said | July 10th 2013 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

      Very talented young guy. I just hope that when he cops some stick and eventually gets dropped as all the spinners since Warne have, that he keeps working to get better. Its always hard for someone of 19 with all the wraps to live up to it.
      BTW anyone see Usman at the ceremony for Agar’s test cap. The look on his face said it all. Angry at being left out once again for Mr 32 Cowan

    • July 10th 2013 @ 11:23pm
      pope paul v11 said | July 10th 2013 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

      Lyon should get a lawyer. 7/94 in his last test.

      Maybe he and Usi can commence a class action.

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2013 @ 2:46am
        Rob na Champassak said | July 11th 2013 @ 2:46am | ! Report

        Match figures of 9/165, I believe. But I guess that doesn’t mean much these days?

    • July 11th 2013 @ 3:54am
      JJ said | July 11th 2013 @ 3:54am | ! Report

      I think it’s clear what we’re attempting to do with this selection. It’s all about unsettling England plain and simple. Lyon might be marginally better, but this is a great psychological play. Puts odds on Lyon playing a test, but also on Fahad as well. Usi will get a gig as will Warner, but Lehmann will play his cards at the right time. This is a brilliant call and shows how Aussies, not South Africans or kiwis compete. Proud of the selectors for the first time in years. A very smart play.

    • July 11th 2013 @ 4:17am
      Bee Bee said | July 11th 2013 @ 4:17am | ! Report

      This is looking like turning into a PR disaster for the selectors should Australia lose this test. Spin bowlers more than any other role thrive off confidence. Hence why Shane Warne was so good. He was so full of self confidence he could get hit all over the park and truly believe he had the batsmen right where he wanted them.

      I hope Lyon has some self-belief left after this. He’s going to need it.

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