Almanac Cricket: It’s not A. Agar who should be taking the heat for a disappointing Australian tournament

 

The selection and use of Ashton Agar in the World T20 cost Australia a great chance to win the only remaining silverware it is yet to savour. Its loss to New Zealand in the series opener was a setback from which it never recovered.

It’s not Agar’s fault that from the moment he began with two knee-high full tosses to Martin Guptill, Australia’s campaign plunged into crisis. Simple logic said that he should never have been put in that position in the first place, and everyone responsible for it  –  from Rod Marsh, to Darren Lehmann to Steve Smith  –  should be made accountable.

Never mind that the football season has now engulfed us, or that Australia’s exit was the result of arguably the greatest ever innings in short-form cricket, an absolute masterpiece from Virat Kholi. India would have been out of the competition before last Sunday’s match began if we had got things right.

Australia had two years to decide on its best team and yet it entered the tournament with confusion over the batting order and question marks over the make-up of the attack. Most of the issues were resolved as they entered the Indian match, but the damage had been done.

Michael Beer was the obvious choice instead of Agar. He is a proven performer over many Big Bash campaigns, and has the experience and temperament to have been able to cope.

Agar’s selection in the squad, and his subsequent use in just the third over of the opening match, was staggering. He played eight matches in the Big Bash and didn’t bowl in four of them, playing mainly on the strength of his batting and fielding. He bowled just nine overs in the tournament.

In the build up to this World T20 he played one match, a game in South Africa a week earlier in which he bowled two overs and took 1/25. How in the hell was he expected to cope with the cauldron into which he was thrown?

Australia has T20 batting resources which are the envy of every other nation. The power of David Warner and Aaron Finch, the innovation of Glenn Maxwell and Smith, the sublime skills of Usman Khawaja and the all-round talent of Shane Watson come along once in a generation.

Yet we return home empty handed again in this format because of organisational incompetence, and in the process have crucified a kid who might be an important part of our future. Those responsible should hang their heads in shame.

 

 

Comments

  1. bob.speechley says

    Totally agree. Team selection was important and this is where the selectors got it wrong by not taking another specialist spinner – e.g. Dutchy Holland (but he’s a Bushranger). Furthermore the batsmen are obviously not accustomed to playing spin as shown in Steve Smith’s stumping against the Kiwis

  2. Peter Flynn says

    Cheers Brendan,

    Beer can bowl the new ball tidily and hence he should’ve been selected to give Smith more flexibility.

    Smith made some tactical errors with his choice of bowlers but I’ll cut him some slack as he’s young and that was a cauldron.

    Kohli has Faulkners measure and the Aussies measure.

    Faulkners mouth hasn’t helped.

    Smith should’ve gambled with Zampa.

    Counter-Nile was found wanting.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Lots of holes to pick Brendan – mostly around the extent to which Australia takes this seriously. Smith is an incompetent T20 captain because he barely plays the game. His use (or lack thereof) of spinners, particularly Zampa, borders on negligent, as does his footwork when facing spinners. I reckon Agar has a place in the team but he needs to be given a bowl in the lead-up.

    The current team management has very little experience in the format – someone like Gillespie should have been considered to provide support.

    Holland is not the answer (Victorianness notwithstanding). He was poor in the BBL. No need to pick another spinner if the captain doesn’t use the ones he already has.

  4. Throwing Agar to the wolves as a bowler and the general selection v NZ flew in the face of anything the brains rust might have gleaned by actually watching the BBL.

    Much like Collingwood on Saturday night, the frustration is magnified when your team is hamstrung at the outset by glaringly poor selections.

    There could be a spot for Agar in Collingwood’s backline though.

  5. Spot on Brendan. I was struck reading a recent article about NZ’s preparation compared to ours. They compensate in nous and preparation for what they lack in population and depth of talent. Picking 2 new spinners of considerable variation. Leave out Southee and Boult. Play dibbly dobbly medium pacers. Practice with wet balls to simulate the humidity at night. Bowlers practicing in very short bursts to simulate the match situation.
    Agar and Coulter-Nile scarcely bowled for Perth Scorchers in the BBL, and CN lacks the variation and nous for the conditions. T20 on the sub-continent is horses for courses. We just rolled out the Mates XI.
    We were outcoached more than outplayed.

  6. Smith captains like Greg Chappell, the same strengths and weaknesses.

    We should have beaten India after that start.

    Well played Watto.

    Zampa, you are acracker. Give him a go in the tests in Sri Lanka!

  7. DBalassone says

    Agreed BM. We just can’t seem to get it right, mind you it will always be a hit & miss format (just look at Windies tournament). Agar has been more of a batter who bowls a bit in the Big Bash so what the heck was in there for?
    I am perplexed why this World T20 is receiving so much media. There is one of these Mickey Mouse tournaments every year, yet this one seems to be all over the news. Why? Even the ABC had flown over the brilliant Geoff Lemon to cover it. He must be laughing!

  8. Brendan is the BBL part of the problem encountering Australia in T20 cricket ?

    Would a more state based les franchised format benefit us in producing a national T20 side that is capable of doing well ?

    Your thoughts?

    Glen!

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Spot on,BMac if India or Pakistan had played a bowler and in the 1st game his figures are 1-3-0 and then in the game to decide who played in the semi bowled,2-11-0 there would be match fixing accusations.
    Agar is a batsman who bowls a bit,Coulter Nile who is perennially injured plays being way way under done.Warner not opening basically bewildering and incompetent

  10. Well said, Bushy.
    I was amazed when Agar was selected in the squad, but Rod Marsh specifically stated at the time that Agar was the “15th man” and most likely would not play a game. The fact that he bowled the third over of the tournament, in a crucial match v NZ, means that R Marsh has some explaining to do.

  11. I am perplexed at the inclusion/role of Coulter-Nile. I concur with PB in that he seems to be a ‘a mates’ selection, more so than on merit.

    He carried the drinks for the Test X!, was part of a losing T20 side, though hardly played a game all summer.. From reading other comments, i don’t think i’m Pat Malone questioning his inclusion.

    His selection over Hastings did not help team balance. In the limited over forms of the game, both T20 & ODI’s Hastings wa sour nest ‘death’ bowler the last few months. His absence was perplexing.

    Anyhow we can only improve. WE might win this tournament one day.

    Glen!

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