A progress report on the allrounders as they head to India for the upcoming one-day and four-day contests
Australia A squad preview: allrounders
Ashton Agar (one-day and four-day)
Where he’s at: Agar flies out today with the one-day squad having spent the winter playing short-form cricket. The forgettable Qantas Tour of England was followed by a more successful T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe, before he returned to the UK for a six-match stint with Middlesex as one of the county’s overseas recruits in England’s domestic T20 competition. His frugal left-arm spin, impressive lower-order batting and athleticism in the field has made him a staple in Australia’s limited-overs teams, and he’s in the running for a Test return too. Agar played in both of Australia’s last two Tests in Asia – against Bangladesh away last September – and will have a perfect chance to impress in spin-friendly conditions in India.
What he’s said: "It's hard, isn't it?" says Agar when asked whether he views himself as an allrounder or a specialist spinner. "It's whatever the public and the media perceive you as. I see myself as an allrounder and a specialist spinner as well. I often get picked on my bowling and often play because of my bowling as a specialist spinner. I would like to be an allrounder, that's what I love. But I don't see that there's any reason I couldn't be both of those."
Mitch Marsh (four-day)
Where he’s at: While he’s still technically still considered an allrounder, Marsh will play as a specialist batter in the two four-day matches in Vizag. Still recovering from ankle surgery he underwent in April, Marsh said last month he will be fully fit for the two-Test series against Pakistan that’s expected to be held in the UAE in October. With his sole focus on batting, the tour presents a fantastic and timely opportunity to spend time in the middle in conditions expected to be spin-friendly and the same as those the Australians are likely to confront against Pakistan. On the disastrous UAE tour four years ago, Marsh was a bright light. He made his Test debut in Dubai and scored 87 in second match at Abu Dhabi.
What he’s said: "From my perspective and where I see the plan, I'll be fully fit for that (UAE) tour," he told cricket.com.au. "I've still got 12 weeks, I'll start bowling in three weeks so I'll be fully fit for that tour. My ankle is honestly feeling great and I've had no setbacks so far. I think the allrounder role is going to be really important if we're going to go with two spin options in those conditions."
Michael Neser (one-day and four-day)
Where he’s at: Neser’s star is on the rise, hitting the heights of an international debut against England at The Oval in June. As a late call-up for injured paceman Josh Hazlewood, the South Africa-born allrounder played two matches but couldn’t quite display the swing bowling and hard-hitting that’s made him a Queensland and Adelaide Strikers mainstay in recent seasons. With the ability to swing the new red ball – particularly the Dukes – and more than hold his own with the bat, the 28-year-old could be a smokey to replace one of Hazlewood or Pat Cummins on the UAE tour. With possibly seven matches in India, Neser could be the pace-bowling option Australia’s selectors go with to face Pakistan should Marsh not be ready to bowl.
What he’s said: "In India, for somebody like me who bowls mid-130kph, variation is the key – subtle changes and consistent areas,” he told cricket.com.au. "There's a couple of new balls I'm trying out at the moment – every year I try to bowl a new variation because I find that in the Big Bash and the Shield, the guys you play every year tend to work you out. So if you're not coming up with something new, or honing in on certain things, they can get away from you."
Jack Wildermuth (one-day)
Where he’s at: Wildermuth, like Neser, made the leap from domestic to international cricket this winter after making his T20I debut against Zimbabwe in Harare last month. The Queenslander, who turns 25 on September 1, has two first-class hundreds and a five-for under his belt, and was on the cusp of selection last year when Mitch Marsh was ruled out at the midway point of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in India. Wildermuth is perhaps a stronger batsman than Neser, but his state teammate is the stronger bowler.
What he’s said: "I've been working a lot on my batting," he said. "I want to try to get myself into the top six in white-ball cricket, with Queensland and the Melbourne Renegades."
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
One-day fixtures in Vijayawada
17 August v India A
19 August v South Africa A
21 August v India B
23 August v India A
25 August v South Africa A
27 August v India B
29 August - Quad-Series Final
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2-5 September v India A
8-11 September v India A