Ashton Agar has reportedly already been sent home from India after being pushed down the Australian spinning pecking order.
The West Australian was seen as the No. 2 behind Nathan Lyon as of the third Test against South Africa in Sydney but has seemingly been out of contention in India.
He becomes the third player alongside Josh Hazlewood and David Warner to be sent home, although the other two players are injured.
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The left-armer was pushed aside for 22-year-old Todd Murphy’s stunning debut and then, after Mitchell Swepson went home for the birth of his first child and Matt Kuhnemann was added to the squad, was snubbed for fellow left-armer Kuhnemann’s debut in Delhi.
In the space of two months, Agar went from No. 2 to at least No. 4 in the hierarchy and it was decided he would be sent home.
“ (Agar) has worked incredibly hard, he’s done his absolute best to support the team,” Australian selector Tony Dodemaide told reporters in Delhi. “We acknowledge all the work he’s done, he’s worked his backside off.
“In the first Test it was a very close call (between Murphy, Agar and Swepson) as to what spin structure we went with. The question mark of whether the two off-spinners could go together.
“We had Matthew Kuhnemann coming in for the second Test – again a very close call with that. We just decided that Matthew’s style would be suited to the conditions there.”
The 29-year-old Agar is returning to Australia and will likely be available to play Sheffield Shield cricket on March 2 and the Marsh Cup Final on March 8.
However, speaking to the Wide World of Sports, former Aussie captain Mark Taylor said with the likes of 26-year-old Kuhnemann and 22-year-old Murphy coming in, Agar’s Test career could be as good as over.
“I don’t know what his future is as a Test player,” Taylor told WWOS.
“They picked him for the Sydney Test, which I thought was a good selection because they were thinking about the series in India. But then they didn’t pick him in India. So I don’t see what sort of future he has left.
“If they’re not picking him in India, I’m not sure how they can pick him again.
“It’s particularly worrying for Ashton Agar if he does harbour hopes of playing Test cricket again. If he was younger you’d say, ‘Well, he can come back from this’, but right now I’m struggling to see how he can put this behind him and play Test cricket again.
“He’s been around for a long time now … He’s not a spring chicken.
“I’ve got no doubt now that the selectors will be looking at the development of Matthew Kuhnemann as a left-arm spinner, so I don’t know where that leaves Agar.”
Earlier this week, Aussie cricket legend Adam Gilchrist said the way Agar had been overlooked was “ a pretty big insult”.
“I know from touring and being on a lot of tours, you felt that if you’re picked on the tour in a broader squad – unless it’s a pretty extreme like for like that has to come in – you generally expected the guys that were first reserves to step in,” Gilchrist said on SEN WA.
“So that’s a bit of a body blow for him I would imagine. I haven’t spoken to him … it’ll be interesting to see what he does, whether he’s brought into contention.”
Cricbuzz reporter Bharath Ramaraj tweeted the move showed “confusion” in Australia’s planning.
“So you select Agar in the original squad. Matthew Kuhnemann then travels all the way to India (replacing Swepson) and ends up playing a Test. And now Agar returning home to play for WA,” he wrote.
“One can say Matthew Kuhnemann is a slightly better option (wider of the crease, a tad round-arm and something different) than Agar but just pointing out the confusion in their ranks.”