JOHN Inverarity the umpire took only a few seconds to be sold on 19-year-old spinner Ashton Agar. Inverarity, the Australian selection boss, arrived to watch a Perth Scorchers practice match late last year only to be told he was required in an umpire’s hat rather than sitting on the sidelines. It was his first glimpse of Agar, the left-arm spinner of Sri Lankan heritage who had moved from Melbourne to Perth to try to get a foot in the door in first-class cricket. Inverarity liked what he saw and the youngster’s name went in a page of his little black book, which was opened again recently when Australian selectors picked a squad for the four-Test Indian Test series this month.Despite the fact he is playing only his second first-class match, taking 2-47 in the first innings against Queensland at the Gabba, selectors are sending Agar to India for his development and to play a warm-up match next week. It is an extraordinary rise to national prominence for Agar, who also has another enormous fan in his corner in Test great and youth cricket advocate Greg Chappell. Yet another fan is Agar’s West Australian coach Justin Langer, the former Test batsman, who likened the spinner’s style to that of Kiwi Daniel Vettori.”Ashton reminds me very much of a young Vettori, he is very loose in the way he bowls and bats and fields,” Langer said. “He is a very aggressive spin bowler. He spins the ball, he loops it up, he has got a good arm ball and he is looking to take wickets. That’s a great combination.”
Agar is being fast-tracked through the system with Australia crying out for young spinners. Like many left-arm orthodox spinners, Agar is not a massive turner of the ball but can give it the occasional big rip to surprise an unsuspecting batsman. And he is a focused and intelligent youngster- – having to postpone a law degree at university to further his cricket.
Addendum: Ashton Agar participated in a last wicket stand of 98 runs for WA with Michael Hogan in the match with Queensland at the Gabba and then took 3 wickets to back Coulter-Nile (6 wkts) and the West Australians when they beat Queensland by 92 runs on the fourth day – today.