Ashton Agar was told to keep his “chin up” and walk tall by national selectors after being overlooked for two Tests in India, but declared there was “no bitterness” involved in the decision to send him home early.
After arriving back in Perth on Thursday Agar, who was the only left-arm spinner picked in the initial Australian squad but was unused in two Tests before selectors parachuted in Matt Kuhnemann, said the message to him was well communicated.
At 29, the snub could make it hard for Agar to get back into the Test team, given he’s slipped down the pecking order, but he was circumspect about where he sits.
“It’s not an ideal situation, but you just try and make the best of it,” he said.
“I’m 29 now and been through plenty of ups and downs in the game. I’m in a fortunate position so it’s nothing that stresses me out too much.
“There was really clear messaging, they communicated with me and it’s a clear path forward with that message – it’s chin up, walk tall and try to improve.
“There’s no bitterness around this sort of stuff any more; that’s an old school mentality. I just try and give as much as I can and help where I can.”
Selector Tony Dodemaide said Agar had “worked his backside off” in India but that selectors didn’t feel he posed as much of a threat to India’s batters as Kuhnemann.
Agar, who will return to India with Australia’s ODI team for a series in March, said a lack of red-ball games in recent years didn’t help his cause.
“It’s been pretty hard for me recently to be fair, I’ve played, like, three red-ball games in three years,” he told Channel 10 in Perth.
“It’s hard to expect that part of my game to be in tip-top, perfect shape. But I’ll always compete as hard as I can and give as much as I can to a team. It’s just whether I get that chance. I’ll play as well as I can and see what happens.”
The West Australian was confident he had the resilience to keep pushing his national cause.
“I do feel like I am pretty resilient and try to front up every day with a smile on my face and be part of a team,” Agar said.
“Going go India is really hard; individually it’s hard and it’s bloody hard as a team, especially against that team at the moment – they are unbelievable.
“I think controlling my attitude had been a strength of mine over the last few years and I am certainly enjoying my cricket a lot more because of that. You definitely bounce back a little quickly from setbacks.”
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