Lehmann backs Agar in return to Test team

Australian cricketer Ashton Agar takes part in a nets session at the SCG.
Australian cricketer Ashton Agar takes part in a nets session at the SCG. DAN HIMBRECHTS

DARREN Lehmann famously backed Ashton Agar in England four years ago.

And now the Australian coach feels confident turning to the West Australian all-rounder in Bangladesh.

Taking over the national team just two weeks out from the 2013 Ashes series, one of Lehmann's first eyebrow-raising decisions was to blood the then-teenage left-arm spinner.

Agar duly went on to make 98 batting at No.11 but failed to make an impact with the ball and was dropped two games later after claiming 2-248.

The now 23-year-old is set to return to the Australian Test team for the first time since then when it begins its two-match series against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Sunday.

He is poised to partner incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon, with Steve O'Keefe dumped despite taking a starring role in India earlier this year. Uncapped legspinner Mitchell Swepson is the other tweaker on tour.

"His length is a lot better," Lehmann said referring to Agar's first stint as a Test bowler. "He had a good Shield season last year.

"Young Swepson is a good prospect as a legspinner, (and) obviously (Jon) Holland back home has bowled well.


Australian captain Steve Smith and coach Darren Lehmann chat.
Australian captain Steve Smith and coach Darren Lehmann chat. DAVE HUNT

"It's really tight between all the spinners but Ashton himself has batted really well, he's a gun fielder and he's got his length right with the ball, so we're really pleased for him.

"Steven (O'Keefe) was excellent over there (in India) but we've decided to go with Ashton.

"He's got the all-round game and hopefully he'll take it to the next level so if we wanted to play three quicks he could bat up the order, for example. He gives us a lot of flexibility in that way."

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are set to remain the sole pacemen with spearhead Mitchell Starc sidelined with injury. Glenn Maxwell is expected to hold his No.6 spot.

Just one other change is expected from the team that last played in March when losing in India by eight wickets - Usman Khawaja replacing Shaun Marsh at No.3.

"We obviously haven't played too much, so we're fairly settled in where we want to go," Lehmann said.

Australia has not won a Test series on the subcontinent since beating Sri Lanka 1-0 in 2011.

Topics:  ashton agar australian cricket team darren lehmann

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