The numbers backing Agar's World Cup recall

Australia will play their T20 World Cup matches exclusively in the Caribbean, where pitches tend to aid spinners

George Bailey said all along Australia wanted an extra spin option in their T20 World Cup squad and, with one look at the venues they are slated to play at, it's not hard to see why.

Ashton Agar hasn't played a T20 International for Australia since the last World Cup in 2022, but his versatility was enough to see him get the nod over Tanveer Sangha, who perhaps missed out due to his likeness to incumbent Adam Zampa.

The tournament is being jointly hosted by the USA, but Australia will play their games exclusively in the Caribbean, at up to six different venues.

At all six, the economy rate of spinners is lower than pace bowlers in international and domestic T20s, as it was during Australia's tour in 2021 when West Indies leggie Hayden Walsh destroyed the visitors with 12 wickets in five matches (all in St Lucia) in a 4-1 series win.

Tellingly, the difference between spin and pace economy rates for the Aussies' six World Cup venues (1.32) is greater than the overall variation in T20s (0.92).

"It certainly did (turn) the last time we had a white-ball series over in the West Indies," men's selection chair Bailey said after Australia's 15-player squad for June's ICC event was announced.

"I think as the tournament goes on, if you do happen to start playing on some wickets that have been played on before or have had a fair bit of traffic on them, (extra turn) is certainly a possibility."

Two games will have already been played at Kensington Oval in three days by the time Mitch Marsh's side arrive in Barbados for their World Cup opener against Oman on June 5.

When they face England there three days later, the venue will have hosted five games in a week.

There should be some fresher wickets for their final two first-round games; it will be the tournament's second and first games respectively at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua (where the Aussies face Namibia) and Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia (against Scotland).

But when they return to those venues the following week (presuming they qualify for the Super Eight stage) Antigua will be hosting its sixth match in 11 days and St Lucia its sixth in nine days.

It's a schedule that should result in even slower and lower wickets, exaggerating the spin on offer and likely making it harder for batters to score.

Excluding England's 3-267 – the second highest T20I total by a Test-playing nation – during their tour of the Caribbean last December, the average total batting first in that series (175) was remarkably similar to Australia's visit two years earlier (174), while India's three matches in the Caribbean in August 2023 saw an even lower average total (153).

While Australia have backed their three-pronged pace attack in all but one match of the past three white-ball World Cups (two of which came in Asia - T20s in the UAE in 2021 and ODIs in India in 2023 - where Australia won both) Bailey said the need for flexibility led to Agar's recall after missing last year's 50-over tournament through injury.

"It gives us the ability to structure up a little bit differently and potentially play 'Zamps' (Zampa) and Ash (Agar) in conjunction with 'Maxi' (Glenn Maxwell) as well, so you've got options there," Bailey said.

"So that flexibility to be able to structure up exactly how you want and with a left-arm skill set that's a little different."

Every ball from Agar's absurd dot-heavy spell

Zampa again looms as crucial to Australia's World Cup hopes, having been the side's leading bowler in successful tournaments in 2023 (with 23 wickets) and 2021 (13 wickets).

Agar will arrive in the Caribbean having not played since turning out for club side University in the WA Premier Cricket semi-final in March.

He recently eschewed a state contract for next summer to give himself flexibility to pursue playing opportunities in other T20 leagues after being jumped by off-spinner Corey Rocchiccioli in Western Australia's Marsh Sheffield Shield team.

But a match-winning hand with the bat in his most recent international match last September in South Africa underlines the versatility he offers to Australia's squad.

Bailey said squad members not playing in the Indian Premier League would soon link up in Brisbane for a pre-tournament training camp.

"We believe Ashton can play a critical role in this tournament along with Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Cam Green and Mitch Marsh in complementing our frontline attack options," said Bailey.

"The batting options available allow a tailored approach to each venue and opponent."

2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: v Oman, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 10.30am AEST

June 9: v England, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 3am AEST

June 12: v Namibia, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

June 16: v Scotland, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 10.30am AEST

Super Eights, finals to follow if Australia qualify

For the full list of fixtures click here. All matches will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime