Western Australia coach Adam Voges believes Ashton Agar has got the talent to become a Test all-rounder, and he’s got a big opportunity to prove that over the next month.
Agar was man-of-the-match in WA’s 205-run Sheffield Shield win over South Australia in Adelaide after achieving a rare century/five-wicket double, making the most of his promotion to No.6.
It was the spin-bowling all-rounder’s third first-class ton, and career-best score of 114 not out, to go with six five-wicket hauls.
The 27-year-old burst onto the international scene as a teenager with a world-record 98, still the highest Test score by a No.11, on debut during the 2013 Ashes series.
But the Australian limited-overs regular has only played three Test matches since, the last of which was against Bangladesh back in September, 2017.
“I do, I think he probably needs to do a little bit more in first-class cricket first to prove those credentials,” Voges said when asked if Agar could bat a No.6 in Test cricket.
“I think the talent is there to be able to do it but I think, knowing JL (Australian coach Justin Langer) pretty well, he wants guys in the top six who he thinks can make hundreds at Test level.
“Hopefully Ash can continue on the way that he started this season, we put him in the top six because we know he can score hundreds at first-class level.
“Hopefully with a little bit of consistency and continuity, it gives him the confidence that he’ll be able to take that next step as well.
“I certainly think he can play Test cricket as an all-rounder, I’m sure he’s got ambitions to be batting as high as he can in all formats of the game.
“I’m just really pleased that he was able to take that opportunity this week.”
Voges highlighted Agar’s big opportunity over the next three matches in WA’s Adelaide hub, starting with the star-studded New South Wales on Monday, to push his case for a Test squad berth for the four-match series against India this summer.
“What Ash has in front of him right now is a great opportunity to get some consistency and continuity with his red-ball cricket,” Voges said.
“Along with a host of other white-ball cricketers, he probably doesn’t get the opportunity to play as much Shield cricket as they would like due to the schedule.
“For him to get a block of games to not only keep playing well and performing well for us and hopefully helping us win games, but certainly to put his name up to hopefully be in the discussions when selectors talk about potential Test squads later in the summer.
“All he can do is continue to perform and he’s started the season really well.”
While Voges couldn’t be happier with his team’s season-opening win against the Redbacks, he knows just how big of a task knocking off reigning Shield champions NSW will be.
Test stars Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon will headline the Blues’ bowling attack, which also includes prized recruit Chris Tremain and international-experienced pair Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques.
“It will be a great challenge and a great indicator to see where we’re at and the improvements we think we’ve made over the pre-season so we’re really looking forward to that,” Voges said.
“We obviously enjoyed the win yesterday but certainly one eye starts to wonder about what we’ve got coming up and making sure that our preparation is spot on for that against New South Wales.
“They’re the winners of the Sheffield Shield last season and they’ll have a strong line-up so we’ll be well prepared and looking forward to that challenge.
“(Starc and Lyon) are probably two of the best in the world and we had that challenge last year against a full-strength New South Wales and came up short so it’s another great opportunity for our group to see how far we’ve come in 12 months and how we can compete with some of the best players in the world.”