Hot Agar revisits the deeds of Sobers
Hot Agar revisits the deeds of Sobers

It is more than half a century since Ashton Agar's start to his Sheffield Shield career has been matched by any other player.

And while WA coach Justin Langer likens the teenager's loose-wristed batting to West Indies great Clive Lloyd, it is another Caribbean giant who bears the closest comparison to Agar's returns after just three matches.

The young spinner has claimed an impressive 12 wickets in his first three games but it has been his cool-headed batting that has been most valuable in the wins over Queensland and Tasmania this month.

Agar's unbeaten 71 against the Tigers took his tally to 182 runs, 10 more than champion all-rounder Gary Sobers scored during his stint with South Australia in the early 1960s.

And only three other Australians - all players with significant Test pedigrees dating back nearly a century - scored at least 170 runs and claimed at least 12 wickets in their opening three matches.

"I like to see myself as an all-rounder," Agar said.

"I am probably a bowling all-rounder but I work hard on my batting and try to make as many runs as I can so it has been nice to contribute a couple of times."

Langer agreed, saying Agar's maturity at 19 made him a player able to have an immediate impact with bat and ball.

"He is an all-rounder," Langer said.

"He played an exceptional innings in Brisbane to put the game out of Queensland's hands.

"He can play off the back foot and the front foot, cut shots, he plays magnificent cover drives and has a pretty solid defence. At 19 years old he has a huge future as an all-rounder."

Agar's rapid emergence during the absence of injured senior spinner Michael Beer has coincided with WA's considerable improvement into a team that could challenge for the shield final next month.

Newcomers Agar, Sam Whiteman, John Rogers and Burt Cockley have made the most of unexpected opportunities while Ryan Duffield's man-of-the-match performance against Tasmania was just reward for his long battle to lose weight and improve his fitness.

The WA selectors now face a sizeable dilemma for the match against South Australia next week that could determine second spot on the shield ladder.

Beer proved his fitness by claiming five wickets for South Perth at the weekend while Australia A representatives Adam Voges and Nathan Coulter-Nile will be available and quicks Nathan Rimmington and Jason Behrendorff will come under consideration.

WA may also consider calling up Ashton Turner as another spin-bowling all-rounder, though spinners have taken just 27 of the 125 wickets to fall at Adelaide Oval this season.

Langer was adamant that Agar had become a first-choice player, making it difficult for Beer to force his way into the team only a month after he was almost guaranteed a Test place in India.

"Six weeks ago Michael Beer looked like going to India but Ashton Agar has since put a case that you could not believe," Langer said.

"Ashton Agar will not be rested or rotated and he certainly will be playing."

The West Australian

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