Smith confirms Agar’s Test return after four years


Australian captain Steven Smith confirmed Ashton Agar will play his first Test in four years when the two-Test series against Bangladesh begins in Dhaka on Sunday.

Agar made a sensational debut to Test cricket in 2013, scoring 98 runs in his maiden innings batting at number 11 against England at Nottingham.

But since then the 23-year-old has made only one further Test appearance, and has been hungry for a return to the long format of the game.

It was not until his impressive form in the Sheffield Shield this season —  he claimed 16 wickets and scored 115 runs in four innings for Western Australia — that he caught the eye of the selectors again.

He was picked for Australia’s two-Test tour of Bangladesh ahead of left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, whose 12-wicket haul against India earlier this year helped Australia win the first Test of that series.

Agar will partner with off-spinner Nathan Lyon on a supposedly spin friendly wicket at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, where Australia will make their first Test appearance against Bangladesh in 11 years.

Australia have not toured Bangladesh since 2006 and this series has been long in the making.

Smith expressed his hope it would be an exciting series and give them a reality check after their tour of India.

“I think it’s going to be a great series. It’s a great challenge for my group of players to see what we have learned from India,” Smith said in Dhaka.

“Looking at the wicket I think it’s going to be somewhat similar to what we got in India. Hopefully we can learn from what we did there.”

Australia visited India in February-March for four Test matches and despite a 2-1 loss Smith’s men were praised for putting up a good show.

Smith led his side from the front scoring three centuries to become the highest run-getter in the series with 499 runs at an average of 71.28.

Smith said he was surprised by the recent comments of Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who both expressed their hopes of winning the series 2-0.

“It’s pretty confident, isn’t it?” said Smith.

“I think Bangladesh have won only nine out of their 100 games. So it’s a very confident prediction.

“But obviously they are confident about their skill set at the moment. Most teams play pretty well at home. The comment surprised me a little bit, yes,” he said.

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said his team has enough resources to win the series.

“Cricket is all about winning the match,” said Rahim.

“You all know that we have been very consistent in the last series as well as in the last two years in our home condition. I think everyone is talking about winning the series because of that belief,” he said.

The second Test will be held in Chittagong from September 4-8.

Australia squad for first Test: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar,  Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon