South Africa v Australia T20I - Men's
Agar takes inspiration from Indian counterpart
Allrounder and star at the Wanderers details how a conversation with fellow spin-bowling allrounder Ravi Jadeja has helped improve his game
Martin Smith at the Wanderers, Johannesburg
22 February 2020, 10:53 AM AEST
Australia's hat-trick hero Ashton Agar has revealed how a chat with his "favourite player in the world" Ravindra Jadeja inspired him ahead of his match-winning performance against South Africa at the Wanderers.
But despite his record-breaking night in Johannesburg, the 26-year-old conceded he's behind the chasing pack of spin bowlers hoping to partner Nathan Lyon on this year's Test tour of Bangladesh.
Agar produced an all-round display on Saturday that Jadeja would have been proud to call his own, slamming an unbeaten 20 off just nine balls – including a sweetly-timed straight six off the bowling of speedster Kagiso Rabada – before taking 5-24 with the ball, including a memorable hat-trick.
Jadeja, the all-round superstar who has represented India more than 250 times across all formats, spoke to Agar during Australia's tour of India last month and left an impression on the Western Australian.
"He's my favourite player in the world – I want to play cricket like he does," Agar said after Australia's 107-run thrashing of South Africa, the Proteas' heaviest-ever defeat in T20 cricket.
"He's an absolute rockstar. He smacks them, gun fielder and spins the ball. But it's just his presence when he's out there, watching him filled me with confidence.
"And just talking to him about spin bowling, (he said to) keep trying to spin the ball. When (he's) batting, he has a really positive attitude and he takes that attitude into the field as well.
"So I was pretty inspired by talking to him."
Agar has been perennially in or around the senior Australian side in all forms of the game, but has played just 38 times for his country since his famous Test debut six-and-a-half years ago.
He said dropping in and out of the national side year after year has helped him develop a healthy dose of resilience, and he also praised his family for helping him stay on the right path.
"I think that's always the biggest challenge … when you're in and out, just to keep putting yourself out there," he said.
"You have to believe in yourself at the end of the day because you are the only person you have when you're performing out there. You have your teammates, but only you can perform your true skill.
"I've got good people around me. I've got a wonderful fiancée, she's very supportive so I'm very lucky, and a great family. They are all able to keep me really level.
"I guess I've just tried to keep putting myself out there and do the best I can."
Having taken his first hat-trick at any level since playing club cricket in England in 2013, and the best figures by an Australian male in T20 internationals, Agar surely won't have to worry about his spot in the national T20 side in the lead-up to this year's World Cup.
A return to the Test side is also a chance for the June tour of Bangladesh, where Australia's selectors could take up to three auxiliary spinners to partner frontline tweaker Lyon for the two-Test tour.
Agar performed admirably on Australia's last Test tour of Bangladesh in 2017, but having taken just three wickets at an average of 136 in this season's Marsh Sheffield Shield, he admits he's not the lead candidate to make the tour.
"At the moment I would say I'm placed behind probably Mitch Swepson and even Steve O'Keefe, just because they're bowling really nicely in four-day cricket and taking quite a number of wickets," he said.
"Having said that though, if I were to be picked on that tour, I think I'd be able to do a really good job.
"Bowling out here, you have the protection but if you miss your line or your length just slightly, you really get punished.
"And I've had some experience in Bangladesh before and some success there.
"My bowling in general is in a good place but I'm not even thinking that far ahead, to be honest."
Australia's Qantas Tour of South Africa 2020
Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
First T20: Australia won by 107 runs