Former Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has urged the current Test side to pick left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar as the second spinner to partner off-spinner Nathan Lyon for the upcoming four-Test tour of India, ahead of leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and uncapped off-spinner Todd Murphy.
Agar only has five Test caps to his name since his debut in 2013 and went wicket-less during Australia’s third and final Test match against South Africa in Sydney earlier this month. But Lehmann expects conditions in Nagpur, New Delhi, Dharamshala and Ahmedabad to suit Agar.
“It just gets through the air quicker and some spin and some don’t. The leg spinners sometimes spin it too much, if that makes sense (for finger spinners) some skid on and you get beaten on the inside and you get an LBW.
“That’s probably why they’re looking at a finger spinner. We certainly did that four years ago and Steve O’Keefe bowled India out basically on his own in one of the last Test matches to win there, that’s why I’d be looking at someone like an Agar, bat a little bit, bowl as that second spinner,” said Lehmann on SEN radio.
Lehmann, who was Australian coach on the Test tour of India in 2017, a series they lost 2-1 and saw Steve O’Keefe pick two six-wicket hauls against India in the first Test at Pune, feels the leg-spinner can come in handy if the conditions in the sub-continent are good enough for him to thrive at any stage in the series.
“Having been there, I’m probably more inclined to play finger spinners. Having said that, Shane Warne, even though his record wasn’t as good over there, last time (we won) he was the leg spinner (alongside) three quicks. It’s not all that bad playing a leg spinner there.”
“I can’t believe there was talk of him (Swepson) not going, talk about balance of the side, if you get to pick 18 players, you want a pretty balanced squad. Most of the time we only take 15 over there.”
“They’ve got the extra spinners, there’s plenty of options, there’s no tour game, so they’ll work out the best option to win over there I’m sure. It does look like a pretty good squad. If it suits to play the leg spinner as the second spinner, then good on him,” he elaborated.
Travis Head also impressed with his part-time spin bowling at the SCG and Lehmann believes Murphy then can’t be a part of the playing eleven. “When you’ve got Head and (Green) in your side you probably can go for a bit of variation, it just depends on whether a quick is the better option or the spin.”
“I definitely wouldn’t be playing – and it’s nothing against the young man — Todd Murphy, there’s no need to be playing Lyon, Murphy and Head (in the same side). So it’ll get down to Agar and Swepson I think.”