Ashton Agar believes spin will be crucial against West Indies in their upcoming five-match T20I series starting on July 10 in St Lucia. Agar also said that he enjoys his partnership with fellow spinner Adam Zampa and it is fun to compete for a spot given, Australive has four spinners in the squad.
Australia's white-ball tour against West Indies begins on July 10 starting with the five-match T20I series in St Lucia. West Indies are coming from a shocking 3-2 series defeat to South Africa despite playing with their full-strength squad in T20Is.
South Africa's spinning duo of Tabraiz Shamsi and George Linde played a key role for the Proteas in dismantling West Indies' middle-order in the games they won. Both the spinners shared 13 wickets between them across the five matches.
Australia's spin bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar feels spin will be premium in the first six overs against the West Indies given the conditions at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground where all five T20Is will be played. Agar picked 1/25 in Australia’s intra-squad practice match at the same venue.
"I can certainly see it playing quite a significant role. Yesterday the ball kept a little bit low (and) there was a bit of purchase. The wicket certainly slowed up towards the back end, so it was also a challenge for finding out the right speed to bowl," Agar said in a press conference.
"Spin seems to play a big role in the power play in the West Indies (but) you have to be realistic. Some days it's going to work really well, other days they (batsmen) are going to get on top of you because you've got two fielders out and not a lot of pace on the ball as a spinner.
"For me, I quite like doing it because it means my game is growing. As a cricketer, I'm just trying to be as adaptable and usable as possible. I'm just trying to get as good as I can at everything I can,” he added.
"With T20 pitches, you're not always going to get raging turners or ones that go underground. Generally, around the world, they're pretty flat but not in the subcontinent or in the West Indies. History shows us that they might be a little bit more friendly to us."
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa and Agar have been Australia’s leading spinners in T20Is since the 2016 T20 World Cup, both in terms of economy and wickets. Australia have included four spinners in their squad with Queensland spinner Mitchell Swepson and Sydney Thunder’s Tanveer Sangha complementing the duo.
"Obviously Zamps [Adam Zampa] and I have enjoyed a really nice partnership over the last couple of years. [Mitchell Swepson] is bowling beautifully and so is Tanveer Sangha. And we all work really closely together, we actually have great relationships with each other, so it's a lot of fun. We talk about that opportunity and it's really nice to be a part of a spin group that just genuinely care about each other,” Agar said.
"I guess you can say we're fighting for spots if you want to put it that way but to be honest we're trying to help each other get better and better every time we train and play together, so it's a lot of fun. And, yeah, certainly that increased opportunity is always something to look forward to, so hopefully, the wickets are spin-friendly,” he added.
Agar could be expected to play a pinch-hitter’s role for Australia with the bat, given they lack firepower in the middle-order owing to the absence of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis. Agar opined that, among other things, he needs to work on developing his pull shot.
"It's tough. I find it quite hard, if I'm being honest. Coming in down the order, and trying to make as many runs off as few balls as possible is a tough task for anyone. But that's the role I'm there to play, and I've been working really hard to try and get better at it," Agar said.
"I think I've identified a few areas, so I think playing the pull shot is a really important shot to have, and trying to get better at hitting slower balls is really important too. You don't often get two balls in the same spot or the same speed,” he concluded.