ONE: “Another Agar n the Rise,” =Aaron Pereira,
Wesley Agar, youngest brother of Ashton, on the cusp of state honours. The days of being known simply as “Ashton’s little brother” are numbered for Wes Agar. The tearaway quick has forged his own path, not dissimilar to Ashton’s before him although not nearly as glamorous. For Ashton, it was a contract with Western Australia, an entrenched kinship with his state teammates and a retainer that not many would scoff at. For 18-year-old Wes, it’s an unfamiliar state, a host family and a grade club opportunity with no guarantee of a Redbacks contract.
But that hasn’t deterred the youngest Agar, who is determined to earn a state call-up without the need to draw on his increasingly well-regarded name. “The move to South Australia has been awesome for my game,” Agar told cricket.com.au. “I’ve had a few coaches really help me but another reason to move was to really grow up and take responsibility for my game.”
Agar has also heeded the lessons of his big brother, having witnessed first-hand how quickly the fortunes of a first-class cricketer can rise and fall. And so he viewS a possible trip to Bangladesh for the Under 19 ICC Cricket World Cup with no small degree of caution. “If I can perform and keep bowling fast and take wickets I can definitely have a good crack, but I’m not looking at that,” he said of the tour. “If it comes, then great, but if not, I’ll just keep working hard.”
Wes Agar in action at the Under 19 National Championships in Adelaide // Sweep Photography
If you looked at Wes’ stats through the junior ranks, you might be mildly impressed. If you saw his figures now, your interest would spike. But if you actually watched his bowling style and the manner in which he ferociously attacks opposing batsmen, you’d be sold. Think of the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Shoaib Akhtar: similar action, same hair.
Standing at 192cm, slightly taller than brother Ashton, Wes has been clocked at above 130kph and puts his height to good use, sending even the tallest batsman onto the back foot. And while his batting doesn’t possess the simple finesse of Ashton’s, no-one ever questioned Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee were never questioned about their work with the willow.
Even matriarch of the Agar family, Sonia, is in Adelaide to watch Wes ply his trade, opting against a trip to Perth for the Warriors shield match, a game in which Ashton subsequently scored a century. Mum has probably seen enough backyard battles to write a cricket novel, though interestingly Wes says the star performer there was often middle brother Will.
“It was different every time – some days I would win, some days Ashton would win and I have another brother Will (who plays for St. Kilda in the Victorian Premier Competition) who probably won most of the battles,” he recalled.
Currently contesting the Under 19 National Championships for his newly-adopted state, Wes took 5-37 against Tasmania, his pace often proving too much for the batsmen of the under-age tournament. “It’s a good learning experience for me, especially getting the new ball,” he said. “I probably haven’t bowled better than that five-wicket-haul but I could probably bowl better early doors to help the side. “Obviously my goal is to bowl as fast as I can but you have to be smart about it, know your batsman’s strengths and weaknesses.”
On the fringe of state selection, Wes has one goal in his sights and something to add to the ever-growing Agar trophy room. “I think a Baggy Green is everyone’s goal who plays in these tournaments,” he said. “That is the dream.”
Wes Agar says he is ready to burst on to the cricket scene, just like older brother Ashton did when he made a shock Test debut for Australia in England earlier this year. The 16-year-old quick will make his first XI Premier Cricket debut for Richmond against St Kilda at Glen Waverley’s Central Reserve on Saturday and today told Leader he is “so excited”.
With solid form, he took 4-29 in the second XI last week, and an ankle injury to Ben Torney has paved the way for Agar’s selection.
Ashton made international headlines in July when he smashed 98 on debut in the opening Test match of the Ashes series. The younger Agar said he also considered his selection a shock. “At the start of the year I thought I’d be playing fours and hoped I’d get a game in the threes, but then I was picked in the twos and started getting wickets,” he said.”Two days ago the Big Wiz (captain-coach Al Wise) sent me a text asking me to call him when I could so, at recess, I rang him and he told me I was playing. I’m lucky there’s been an injury and some unavailability.”
Ashton is currently in Melbourne playing for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against Victoria at the MCG and was thrilled when Wes delivered him the news last night.
“I came home from the gym and Ash was in the lounge room and I told him I was playing ones and he gave me a big hug and we jumped around screaming,” Agar said. “I always listen to and try to do what everyone says and Ash always tells me ‘don’t be stupid, just do what you do’ so I’ll be taking his advice.”
Agar will bowl to a familiar face on Saturday in star St Kilda batsman and triple Ryder Medallist Graeme Rummans. “I’m trialing for the Victorian under-17 team and he’s my coach,” Agar said. “He’s an awesome player and, yeah, I’m going to try and get him out.”
Agar will wear a pair of Australian all-rounder Steve Smith’s gloves when he bats. Smith generously gave him 15 pairs in the Australian dressing room after play during the First Test at Trent Bridge.