Ashton Agar ‘not a Test bowler’ despite likely recall

Former skippers Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell have cast doubt on the likely inclusion of Ashton Agar in the Australia side for the third Test against South Africa in Sydney.

Pat Cummins indicated on Tuesday morning that Australia wouldn’t announce its side until the toss on Wednesday, but Agar is widely expected to replace the injured Cameron Green, with Alex Carey likely to bat at number six, and Agar at seven while also filling the second spinning role.

The 29-year-old played the last of his four Test matches in Bangladesh in 2017. His bowling averages (45.55 in Tests and 41.84 in first class matches) could be described as modest at best, while his first class batting average of 28.38 is hardly setting the world on fire.

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Speaking on the Wide World of Sports show Outside the Rope, Taylor supported pushing Carey up to number six in the order, but conceded Agar’s figures don’t make a compelling case for selection.

“It sounds like it’s going to be Ashton Agar, which I’m not against trying, although Ashton Agar’s record doesn’t demand selection, particularly as someone who’s going to bat at seven.

“He’s not knocking the door down, but he seems to be the one most preferred.”

Taylor found support from Chappell, who conceded that Australia’s dominance made the selectors’ task much easier.

“He’s (Agar) not a Test bowler,” he said.

“I think he’s probably a better batter than he is a bowler. But the problem is Australia have got is that it doesn’t matter who they pick it will succeed, because South Africa can’t bat.

“That’s a major problem.

The likely inclusion of Agar for Sydney will be with one eye on the upcoming tour of India. In the corresponding tour in 2017, Nathan Lyon was partnered by Steve O’Keefe, with the pair claiming 19 wickets each in the four Tests.

But Taylor believes Agar will need to step up if he plays in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

“Australia are going to need more from him over there (in India) if they’re going to win a series,” he said.

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“The Sydney Test is crucial for Ashton Agar. He hasn’t played a Test since 2017. He’s only played four, and the highlight for him so far has been 98 on debut with the bat.

“There’s been no real highlight with the ball. If he can bowl well in Sydney, give himself a highlight, that tells himself that he can bowl good players out.

“If you don’t think he’s in our best four or five bowlers (in India), you don’t play him.

Taylor also explained that he’d like to see Josh Hazlewood return for Sydney at the expense of Scott Boland, with Lance Morris also in line for a debut.

“It’s going to be hard to leave Boland out, but I’d like to see Hazlewood play,” Taylor explained.

“Josh Hazlewood only played two Tests last calendar year, so I’d like to see Hazlewood play.”

“I’d leave Boland out, play Hazlewood, play Cummins (and Morris), there’s your three quicks, two spinners, five batters and a keeper.

“Done.”

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