Darren Lehmann, the coach of the Australian team, said that Ashton Agar is a genuine all-rounder. He also indicated that the national selectors are thinking to pick him in the final test against Pakistan, which will start from 3 January 2017 at Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 23-year-old all-rounder made his debut in the 2013 Ashes series in England, where he scored 98 in his first Test at Trent Bridge while batting at the No.11 position, and is now all set to play his first Test since his overlooked debut.
On Friday, Agar was included in a 13-man Australia squad along with fellow spinner Steven O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon on a spin-friendly SCG pitch for the final third Test against Pakistan.
Zimbabwe-born all-rounder Hilton Cartwright was also included in the Sydney squad by the national selectors but the Aussie coach Darren Lehmann highlighted the all-round qualities of the Agar.
Lehmann told reporters, “He’s made Shield hundreds and batted well for us in that (Ashes) Test match at 11. He’s certainly got the talent to be a batting all-rounder or a spinning all-rounder, either way.”
Lehmann said, “We wanted a left-armer to go away from all their right-handers as well to give us options. He also got 10 wickets in a Sheffield Shield game in Sydney. He’s improved, we get feedback from (WA coach) Justin Langer and the guys have been watching him; they’ve been impressed with him. If you play two spinners you normally need an all-rounder, so that’s what we’re looking at.”
The Aussie all-rounder Ashton Agar told reporters, “I guess I’ve been selected in this squad as a spinner, but I think I’m capable with bat and ball,”
Agar added on potentially batting at No.7, “I think I would be able to if I was given that opportunity. You just have to make good decisions, and that’s what I’m learning more each time I’m batting in first-class cricket, is the best players consistently make good decisions.”
The coach said that Steve O’Keefe had to stay fit after his recent run of injuries. Last month, O’Keefe, who has injured his hamstring in the first Test against Sri Lanka and was set to replace Nathan Lyon in the third day-night Test against South Africa in Adelaide before yielding to a calf injury.
Lehmann said on O’Keefe, “He wouldn’t want too many more injuries, he’d want to make sure he’s playing cricket. That’s the greatest thing we have now, we’ve got young players coming through who are fit and well. Steven did a really good job for us in Sri Lanka before he got injured, did a good job last year in Sydney as well. He knows he’s got to be fit and ready to play each and every game.”
The Australian coach heaped praises on Nathan Lyon for his brilliant bowling in the second innings of the Melbourne Test where he gripped the crucial wickets of the Pak skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
Lehmann said in praise of the off-spinner, “I thought Nathan Lyon was outstanding, he bowled consistent line and length, which was up and down in the previous few Test matches. Three or four balls an over have been there, but today (Friday) was a lot better. He got through the middle order and so I’m pleased for him.”