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Comeback kid poised to make an all-round impact

Agar's likely return to Test cricket set to come off the back of a huge vote of confidence in all-round ability of the West Australian

Four years on from his jaw-dropping international debut, Ashton Agar is ready to not only thrive as Australia's second spinner but also push his case to be considered a genuine Test allrounder.

Barring Dhaka's monsoonal weather adding some unexpected spice to the pitch for Sunday's first Test, Agar looks certain to edge out leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and partner Nathan Lyon – who he replaced in the 2013 Ashes, and then made way for two Tests later – in a two-pronged spin attack in Mirpur.

Quick Single: Australia settled despite cancellation

After Australia's only scheduled tour game was cancelled yesterday, the 23-year-old trained with teammates for a third successive day at the Sher-e Bangla National Cricket Stadium with rain holding off for the duration of their almost three-hour session on Tuesday. 

Australia have made no secret of their admiration for Agar's all-round ability and his selection for the two-Test tour over incumbent second spinner Stephen O'Keefe represents a huge vote of confidence from the national selectors.

There was a further endorsement from Darren Lehmann this week with the coach floating the potential for the rangy allrounder to bat further up the order to accommodate three fast bowlers.

This group must create its own dynasty: Lehmann

And with Australia not having any scheduled Test tours in Asia for 18 months after they depart Bangladesh (per the ICC's Future Tour Program), Agar could well be auditioning for a bigger role than Lyon's sidekick.

"It depends on what the wicket looks like but I'm ready to go if I get the nod," said Agar, who was one of four spinners picked for Australia's tour of India earlier this year.

"It's really pleasing to be around the Test group. It's what you want to do and it's a great bunch of guys to be around.

"The past India series was good preparation, I bowled a lot over there on pretty similar wickets. 

"So I've got a good idea on how I'd like to bowl if my opportunity comes out here. I think I've prepared really well."

Quick Single: Tigers 'unbeatable' at home: Shakib

If the esteem in which the Australian camp holds Agar wasn't already apparent with his selection over O'Keefe, Australia's joint-leading wicket-taker in India, Lehmann spelled it out on Monday.

"That's what we're hoping for, Ashton to reproduce that sort of form," Lehmann said when asked if Agar could match O'Keefe's feats in India, which included a 12-wicket haul in Pune.

"Stephen was excellent over there but we've decided to go with Ashton and he's got the all-round game hopefully to take it to the next level.  

"So if you wanted to play three quicks, he could bat up the order for example, so he gives a lot of flexibility."

Smith backs Khawaja, Agar to make Test returns

With a bowling average just north of 40 from 44 first-class matches, Agar's record remains inferior to fellow left-arm spinners O'Keefe (career bowling average of 23.77) and Victorian Jon Holland (his mark of 33.06 boosted by 50 Sheffield Shield scalps last summer).

But in his favour are two Shield centuries, signs he could one day be a genuine top six batting option (not unlike his Bangladeshi counterpart Shakib al Hasan) and supreme athleticism in the field.

Quick Single: More history beckons for all-round hero Shakib 

While some will argue those talents with the blade will be wasted at his likely spot at No.8 in the first Test, Agar looms as an intriguing prospect for this Test side.

"I've worked on all parts of my game equally," the 23-year-old said. 

"That’s why I enjoy playing the game, being involved all the time: bat, ball, in the field. 

"I put a lot of pride into my batting and I hope to make some runs if I get the chance."

Agar's staggering 98 from No.11 in his maiden Test innings at Trent Bridge remains one of the game's most memorable debuts.

Quick Single: Re-living Agar's unforgettable debut

The knock from the baby-faced teenager masked the fact he found the going much tougher with the ball, sending down more than 80 overs for two wickets, but Agar says he's now a more potent threat. 

"It's just four years of experience, four years of extra bowling, a lot of balls bowled in that time and naturally you just get better," he said.

"The more you bowl, the better you get at bowling. 

"And just learning the game of cricket over the last four years as well, playing a lot more for WA. 

"It's just a lot of time to learn about myself and how I play my best cricket."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mominul Haque.


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong