Well Boof has thrown out the first curve ball (or should it be doosra?) of his reign as Australian Coach, after last night announcing 19-year-old Ashton Agar would be lining to make his Test debut in the Ashes opener at Trent Bridge.
After Fawad Ahmed was officially named an Australian yesterday, many had predicted he would be the next to wear the baggy green in the Aussie’s never ending cycle of spin bowlers; while most had just assumed incumbent Nathan Lyon would be given the nod at Nottinghamshire.
However Lehmann and his selection panel decided to go with a fresh option, and an inexperienced one at that. At the sprightly age of 19 years and 270 days, Agar who is a product of Victorian junior cricket has played just 10 first-class matches, where he has picked up 31 wickets at the respectable, but not mind-blowing average of 29.38.
Choosing a left arm orthodox bowler to make his Test debut in preference for an off-spinner in a very important match – Sound familiar? Well it should.
On the eve of the 2010-11 Ashes series, Nathan Hauritz was dropped in favour of Xavier Doherty who had sprung into Test reckoning after a solid ODI debut against Sri Lanka where he took four wickets.
On that occasion the experiment was a failure of epic proportions, with Doherty sure to still be having restless sleeps over the brutal punishment Kevin Pietersen in particular gave him during the Adelaide Oval Test on his way to a double hundred.
On Agar’s elevation from development player to Test bowler, Lehmann had this to say. “The main reason for the selection is taking the ball away from all their right-handers and we think this is a really important weapon in particular for this Test match on that particular wicket”.
“In the tour match Michael (Clarke) felt he had good drift and straightened the ball nicely so that’s just the way we have gone with the selectors in this Test match and we’re looking forward to him playing really well.”
Fair reasoning, but one must feel for Lyon after he was dropped for the second time inside four Tests.
For the debutant there would be no fairytale outrageous First Ashes ball ala Shane Warne 20 years ago. Instead Agar dished out a juicy full toss to Jonathan Trott who treated it with typical distain to the cover boundary.
To his credit he recovered well and nearly brought the Ashes specialist Trott undone with a leading edge, but apart from that, the opening day of the left-armer’s Test career went about without any great individual fanfare, in three sessions that were dominated by the quick men.
One would not wish to praise or condemn a cricketer after one inning’s performance, but it will be interesting to see what Australia do should Agar go wicketless in England’s second dig, especially if they lose.
After all, this is the Ashes, and the allowance for experimentation is minimal.