Australia’s pace attack is arguably the world’s best with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins stalwarts in the T20 format.
However, the 2019/20 summer of cricket has revealed the uncelebrated spin bowlers are just as threatening on the international stage.
The profile of Ashton Agar had gone unrecognised, until a career-best performance in Johannesburg on Sunday cemented his spot in the national side.
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Despite being the second-highest run scorer, captain Aaron Finch was awarded Player of the Series, his quick-fire 55 guiding his side to a convincing 97-run victory at Newlands on Thursday.
However, after being handed the trophy, Finch boldly claimed he didn’t deserve the accolade.
“Ashton Agar — I thought for mine, he was clearly man of the series,” Finch said.
“It’s a bit embarrassing when he’s had the series that he has. He was outstanding.”
Aaron Finch scored 111 runs at an average of 37.00 in the three-match series.Source:Getty Images
Agar took eight wickets in the three-match series, averaging 8.50 with the ball and only conceding 5.66 runs an over. He snared a wicket every nine deliveries in the series.
The 26-year-old also claimed his maiden international five-wicket haul and Australia’s first T20 hat-trick in 13 years.
1️⃣4️⃣7️⃣ batting strike rate
What a series Ashton Agar has had!#SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/iAACctSvg2
Historically, Australian selectors would only allocate one strike spin bowler for the sport’s shortest format, part time off-spinner Glenn Maxwell given a spell in the middle overs if required. But with a T20 Cricket World Cup fast approaching, Australia have unearthed a reliable spin duo that could guide them to the finals.
LOWEST ECONOMY RATE IN T20 INTERNATIONALS
Daniel Vettori (NZL) — 5.70
Imad Wasim (PAK) — 5.97
Sunil Narine (WI) — 6.01
Adam Zampa (AUS) — 6.12
Rashid Khan (AFG) — 6.15
* Minimum 100 overs
During the T20 series in South Africa, Adam Zampa and Agar collectively claimed 13/124, their economy rate only 5.82.
“The way that they’ve controlled the middle over has been impressive,” Finch said on Thursday.
“When you’ve got guys that can spin it both ways like Zampa … it’s such a difficult challenge.
Adam Zampa’s T20I economy rate is 6.12, the fourth lowest in historySource:AFP
“You can’t just have two right-handers that lock in and look to hit them in one area.
“They’re spinning it both ways and challenging both edges, which is always a difficult proposition.”
Adam ZAMPA is a terrific bowler. Love watching his competitiveness. Doesn’t matter what the sport is, when you are looking at young players and trying to assess their potential, COMPETITIVENESS, the willingness to compete regardless of the challenge, is a vital factor.
Zampa’s googly deceived South African Pite van Biljon on Thursday, beating the batsman in flight and ripping past his inside edge, crashing into middle stump.
The 27-year-old’s variation beautifully complements Agar’s consistency, the pair combining at both ends to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs.
Since opting for two strike tweakers in October 2018, Australia has only lost one of their past nine T20 fixtures.
“I’m just in control. I’ve got a really good idea of how I want to bowl in T20 cricket,” Agar told SEN on Thursday.
“Technically, I feel really sound at the moment and my stock ball is working nicely. I put a lot of time into getting more revs to try and get more shape in the air and more spin off the wicket.
“I know that if my stock ball is in a good place the rest should come pretty easily out of that.
“My job is a lot easier when I’ve got Mitchell Starc, Patty Cummins, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa doing the job. We all work really well together.”
Australia’s Ashton made his international debut in 2013, and has been a fringe player sinceSource:AP
In the ICC T20 rankings, nine of the top ten bowlers are spinners, South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo the lone paceman. Zampa and Agar both rank in the world’s top ten — Australia’s highest ranked paceman is Billy Stanlake at No. 16.
Cummins and Starc sit at 19th and 36th respectively, a lack of matches impeding their ranking.
Australia’s ODI series against South Africa commences on Saturday.
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