Agar opens up on freelance move, tips others to follow suit

Spinners offers a detailed insight into the changing landscape for professional cricketers

Agar hints at new T20 bowling variation

Ashton Agar believes more Australian cricketers will follow his lead in turning down state and national contracts as the spinner opened up on his decision to make the leap into the global T20 freelancer pool.

Agar is firmly in the mix to return to Australian colours during the upcoming T20 World Cup as close friend Adam Zampa's sidekick on Caribbean pitches expected to favour spin.

The 30-year-old's recall – he has only played three internationals across all formats over the past 18 months, none of them T20Is – comes after not taking up a deal with either Western Australia or Australia for the first time since he moved from Melbourne to Perth as a teenager in 2012.

It is a path recently taken by the likes of fellow World Cup squad members Tim David and Marcus Stoinis, as well as WA teammates Andrew Tye and Jason Behrendorff.

Agar, who this week blew out the cobwebs in warm-up games against Namibia and West Indies in his first matches in three months, believes it’s a route that will become more commonplace.

"What I've learned is that you can't cling on to safety in your skills and then your contracts," he told's Unplayable Podcast in Trinidad.

"I've made that mistake before and your cricket skills fall away, if you're clinging on to safety and security.

"I think a lot of people are going to do what I've just done in the coming years. We'll see it a lot more next year, more the year after – and that's just going to be the way cricket works.

"Because there's so much T20 cricket around the world, guys aren't going to want to take contracts that lock them into certain things."

Agar was part of Australia's squads for the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups but played just one match in each tournament, with Zampa emerging as the primary spinner and the established pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood all proving immovable as well.

That could change if conditions prove as spin friendly as the Aussies expect them to in group and super eight matches in Barbados, Antigua, St Lucia and St Vincent.

Playing Agar and Zampa in the same side will revive a strong bond between the pair, whose families spent time together leading into the tournament on the leg-spinner's property in northern New South Wales.

"It had been really positive (messaging from national selectors) the whole time that if we were going to take two spinners I was going to go," said Agar.

"So I was preparing for most of the summer with this in the back of my mind. That's nice because you can wrap your head around it mentally a little earlier and prepare."

Agar stressed he is not turning his back on Test cricket and hopes to play both 50-over and first-class cricket when available for Western Australia, with his ties to the WACA remaining through his KFC BBL contract with the Perth Scorchers.

The left-armer's stocks in first-class cricket have taken a hit after he struggled in the 2023 SCG Test against South Africa and then was leapfrogged by Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann for the ensuing tour of India.

Corey Rocchiccioli has since entrenched himself as one of the leading domestic first-class spinners and kept him out of WA's Marsh Sheffield Shield final-winning side in March.

Murphy, Kuhnemann and Rocchiccioli, and leggies Zampa, Mitch Swepson and Tanveer Sangha, will be Agar's main competition for a spot in Australia's squad for tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies next year.

"Definitely not (finished with red-ball cricket)," said Agar. "It's about availability and how things work out. I want to play whatever cricket I'm available to play.

"Naturally, not taking a contract means that you play less red-ball cricket, because you're not around for it as much – and that's fine. I've wrapped my head around that.

"Test cricket to me is not the be-all and end-all of cricket now. So if that (Test selection) happened, I'd play, but it's not something I cling on to that tightly.

"For me those opportunities come in the subcontinent anyway, so if that happens, it happens, and I'll do my best."

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Agar is now openly pursuing domestic T20 contracts at any time of the year.

He will take up a four-game deal with UK county Northamptonshire after the World Cup and hopes a last-minute spot in The Hundred could follow. From there, he is prepared to fly anywhere in the world at the drop of the hat.

"I'm not daunted by it, I'm really excited," he said. "You have to have some courage, because you do get a bit nervous at times when you go into a new team, and you don't know anyone, it's on the other side of the world, and you're straight off a plane and you have to go and impress straightaway.

"That's tough work, it takes a lot of courage and a fair bit of mental strength.

"The key is being available. There's always replacements, there's always a league that pops up and to be available at a day's notice to go and fly and play that competition is crucial. That's me now I guess."

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 live and exclusive on Prime Video. Sign up here for a 30-day free trial