England v Australia ODIs
Agar selection leaves Lyon spun out
Left-arm orthodox spin preferred over off-breaks as Australia prepare for format change
Sam Ferris Canterbury
12 August 2015, 05:58 PM AEST
National selection chairman Rod Marsh says he feels “desperately sorry” for off-spinner Nathan Lyon who was overlooked for young gun Ashton Agar in the 15-man limited-overs squad to take on England and Ireland named today.
Agar is in the sole spinner for the limited-overs leg of the Qantas Tour of the British Isles that follows the final Ashes Test at The Oval starting August 20.
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It’s the second time in two years Agar has pipped his senior spinner for an international berth in the UK after the left-armer was a shock inclusion for the first two Tests of the 2013 Ashes series at the expense of Lyon.
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But Marsh says poor form isn’t the reason why Lyon wasn’t chosen for his first ODI series since the 3-0 sweep of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October last year.
Marsh says Lyon is “bowling beautifully at the moment”, but against an England line-up expected to field five right-handers in the top seven, a left-arm orthodox bowler who spins the ball from leg to off was preferred.
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“He's (Lyon) bowling that well in Test match cricket it almost seems a shame for him to perhaps lose any of that by perhaps copping a hiding every now and then in one-day cricket. His confidence is high (just playing Tests),” Marsh said.
“We need someone going away from the bat, so it was either a leg-spinner or Agar or (Steve) O'Keefe.
“Agar's played here and played well here so we opted for him. Plus, he's bowling very well at the moment.”
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Agar will travel to England from his current post in Chennai where he’s starring for Australia A in the one-day triangular series against India A and South Africa A.
The southpaw spinner collected his maiden List A five-wicket haul of 5-39 two days ago against the hosts to help the visitors remain undefeated on tour.
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While Lyon was ruled out due to his bowling type, the other spinner on the Ashes tour fits the bill, with Fawad Ahmed’s leg-spin fitting the nominated criteria of the National Selection Panel.
And while Marsh says the NSP would enjoy having a leggie in the squad for upcoming tours in spin-friendly conditions, ultimately the form of the Pakistan-born asylum seeker dictated his selection.
“He (Fawad) didn't do a bad job at all (when he played ODIs after 2013 Ashes), but we've opted for Ashton because we just reckon that with what's coming up a left-arm orthodox is going to be (vital).
“There could, in fact, be two left-arm orthodox on some of these tours, and it could be we (also) have Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell.
“It could be that we take theoretically four spinners on these future tours … and it would be lovely to have a leggie as well, but at this point in time he hasn't bowled particularly well over here – but … he hasn't had many opportunities.
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“It's a tough call, you'd like to see him do well. He did very well in (Sheffield) Shield cricket, but at this stage he's not in.”
One of those future tours is Australia’s next Test assignment, a two-Test series in Bangladesh in October.
With spin expected to play a major part in the campaign, Marsh says the composition of Australia’s XI could be vastly different to the ones featured throughout the Ashes.
“Just looking forward to Bangladesh, everyone tells me that Chittagong turns square,” he said.
“What's our best attack for Chittagong? It's probably not three fast bowlers and one spinner.
“It might be two quicks, two allrounders and two spinners.”