Australia spinner Ashton Agar has flown home after he was released from the Test squad touring India to play domestic cricket, national selector Tony Dodemaide said on Wednesday.
Agar will play for Western Australia in the closing stages of the domestic season.
The 29-year-old left-arm spinner is the latest Australian to return home midway into the tour, with the visitors having lost the first two Tests of the four-match series.
“(Agar) has worked incredibly hard, he’s done his absolute best to support the team. We acknowledge all work he’s done, he’s worked his backside off,” Dodemaide said.
“In the first Test (in Nagpur) it was a very close call (between Murphy, Agar and Swepson) as to what spin structure we went with. The question mark of whether the two off-spinners could go together,” said the selector on tour.
“We had Matthew Kuhnemann coming in for the second Test – again a very close call with that. We just decided that Matthew’s style would be suited to the conditions there.” Agar has returned home without playing any match as off-spinner Todd Murphy was selected ahead of him for the first Test in Nagpur. In the second Test, even though Australia opted for three spinners, Agar was again left out, with fellow left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann making his debut.
The third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy begins in Indore on March 1. The final match will be played in Ahmedabad from March 9.
Opening batter David Warner and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood have already returned home after being ruled out with injuries.
Agar is set to play in WA’s next Sheffield Shield game on March 2 and the 50-over Marsh Cup final on March 8.
Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who went back home prior to the second Test in Delhi for the birth of his child, and skipper Pat Cummins, who returned home for family reasons, are scheduled to join the touring squad ahead of the Indore game.
Agar has played just five Tests since making his debut in 2013 and he has become a top international limited-overs bowler in recent years.
“That’s for others to judge but it seems to be going that way,” the selector said when asked about increasing difficulty for players to switch between formats.
“Ronnie (coach Andrew McDonald) has talked about the difficulty of remaining an all-format player in any discipline, spinning equally so. There are very few who can adjust really quickly and who are suited to all three formats.
“To be fair to Ash he doesn’t play a lot of first-class cricket either and that’s the nature of the modern game.
“He’s continuing to work on that, he’s worked really hard on that with the coaches, particularly (assistant coach and former left-arm spinner) Dan Vettori. But right now (returning home) is a logical and constructive way forward for Ash and the team.” Agar is likely to return to India in March for the ODI leg of the tour.
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