Ashton Agar has gone home from the tour of India to play domestic cricket for Western Australia. No additions are being made to Australia’s Test squad ahead of the third Border-Gavaskar Test in Indore, starting March 1.
“He (Agar) has been very open with us and he has absolutely worked his backside off in order to get it right, to put himself up and be an option,” Tony Dodemaide, Australia’s selector on tour, told reporters in Delhi on Wednesday. “We absolutely acknowledge that there’s been no lack of effort from Ashton.”
Agar arrived in India with the Test squad as an incumbent in Australia’s XI, having played as the second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon in their last home Test of the summer against South Africa in Sydney.
But he was not selected for the first Test in Nagpur, with offspinner Todd Murphy chosen ahead of him to make his Test debut and partner Lyon alongside two fast bowlers. Then in the second Test in Delhi, Australia opted for three spinners but Agar was once again left out, with fellow left-arm orthodox Matthew Kuhnemann making his Test debut despite having not been part of the original squad and having only flown to India five days prior to the start of the Test match.
Dodemaide took the unusual step of speaking to the Australian media prior to the toss on the first morning in Delhi to explain the selections. He explained that Agar was not selected because “his red-ball bowling is not quite where he wants it to be”. Dodemaide and Agar met at the team hotel on Tuesday, and it was decided that Agar would head home.
Dodemaide explained that it was a “close call” to pick Murphy over Agar for the first Test.
“Todd’s come on tremendously, as we know, and he’s been a real find for us for this,” Dodemaide said. “Those two (Murphy and Lyon) are now clearly established, I think, as the best two spinners, and they have 18 out of the 24 [wickets] to fall so far for us.
“We just decided that Matthew’s style might be suited to the conditions there [in Delhi, for the second Test]. Matthew’s done nothing wrong, he took Virat Kohli’s wicket and did a really solid job, we thought.”
Agar remained likely to return to India with the ODI squad in March – he has been an important cog in Australia’s plans ahead of the World Cup in India later in the year.
Cameron Green likely to be fit for third Test
Australia are 2-0 down in the series, and Josh Hazlewood and David Warner have already gone back home with injuries. Unlike them, Agar will leave fully fit and available to play in WA’s next Sheffield Shield game on March 2 and the 50-over Marsh Cup final that WA will host on March 8.
Mitchell Swepson will fly back to India, having gone home prior to the Delhi Test for the birth of his first child. Pat Cummins is also booked to return to India ahead of the third Test, having flown home for family reasons following the Delhi Test, but his situation remains fluid.
Australia have not added another batter to the squad to replace Warner, as Cameron Green is expected to be fit for the third Test.