Steeled by his time under former Australian opener Justin Langer, young spinner Ashton Agar has declared he’s ready for a Test recall.
The 21-year-old made his one-day international debut for Australia on Tuesday to far less fanfare than his Test debut conjured up.
Two years ago, the little-known 19-year-old was thrust into the opening Test of Australia’s 2013 Ashes campaign ahead of Nathan Lyon – scoring a record 98 batting at No.11.
The remarkable innings pushed the youngster firmly in the spotlight, but the highs weren’t to last and he was shuffled out of the Test team after the next match at Lord’s.
A difficult season in the Sheffield Shield followed, but Agar believes the rapid nature of his rise and fall was more easily overcome due to his youthful exuberance.
“For it to happen when I was 19 and to get dropped, it didn’t really feel like I’d been dropped from a Test side,” he said.
“I always had hope I would be able to get back especially because I was young.
“The lack of hype around me playing (ODIs) has been quite nice.”
The likes of Langer, spin coach John Davison and Australia A coach Troy Cooley helped him rebuild to the point where he is confident he is ready to make a Test comeback on Australia’s tour of Bangladesh in October.
Langer, the Western Australia coach, in particular has played a key role in honing the mental toughness Agar needs to succeed at international level.
“I try to be nice and relaxed but (Langer) tries to help me with that as well,” he said.
“He knows how I am and how I’m feeling when I’m playing at my best – and that’s nice and loose and relaxed.
“He just helps me try and groove that mindset when I’m out in the middle.
“The real mental toughness comes in the way that he trains us back home.”
Australia will likely pick a 15-man squad for the Bangladesh tour, with Agar vying for the role of Nathan Lyon’s spinning back-up with NSW tweaker Steve O’Keefe and Victorian Fawad Ahmed.
He insists he remains in the dark about his prospects of getting picked, but suggests he is better prepared than ever following a strong finish to the Shield season and then a starring role on Australia’s A tour of India.
The left-armer took 12 wickets at an average of 12, including 5-39 against India A in conditions similar to what Australia are expected to face in Bangladesh.
“I’ve played on a few spinning wickets at the end of last season,” he said.
“I learned how to bowl with rough, on turning wickets (with) different field settings.
“In India for the A series I learned how to bowl to some good players of spin.
“But I haven’t been picked on that tour yet, so I just have to wait and see.
“…The more I think about (selection on that tour) the less my focus is on this and this is what’s important right now.”