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

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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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