Ashton Agar not only made more runs batting at number six than incumbent Test batsman Travis Head he also got him out as one of five wickets in an all-round effort which has put the left-armer back on the national red ball radar.
Before the opening round of the Sheffield Shield commenced Cricket Australia high performance guru Drew Ginn highlighted the need to find a clear understudy to Test ironman Nathan Lyon, or a clear choice as a spin partner, as a summer priority.
South Australian leggie Lloyd Pope showed his wares on day one of the clash at Karen Rolton Oval, but it was Agar, who smashed a century with the bat the day before, who really made his mark.
Agar’s five scalps helped rout the SA middle and lower order with key batsmen Head (31) and Harry Nielsen (10) among his victims. Head had already been dropped on three but couldn’t make the most of that let-off as the Redbacks were rolled for 314.
It had been 10 years since anyone in the Shield had taken five wickets and scored a century in the same game, and Agar quickly followed the feat of Queensland’s Michael Neser, achieved not long before and a big hit away on nearby Park 25.
Agar finished with 5-103, after making an unbeaten 116 not out batting at number six, as the Warriors moved in to a dominant position in the game, 362 runs ahead and the Redbacks needing a miracle to win.
🖐️ fa for Aggers!
SA all out for 314.#WESTISBEST #SheffieldShield https://t.co/0oM22yhWPx
A REAL SOS
After being one of Pope’s first innings victims 36-year-old Shaun Marsh, captaining WA in the absence4 of his injured brother Mitch, took the match away from the Redbacks with a powerful last session full of boundaries,
Marsh took to the tired and ineffective attack to veteran, smashing a run-a-ball 100, including a massive six off Nick Winter that went in to the car park to push his team’s lead past 350.
He finished the day not out on 102, WA 2-195, with an overnight declaration likely.
TOUGH SECOND UP
Pope was the talk of the own on day one, snaring the first five wickets of the season for his team.
But the flamed-haired spinner was burned as he innings went on and finished with 5-164, going at more than six an over.
Further indication he’s a still a bit of coal needing more work to become a diamond, he went for six runs an over again in his six second innings overs, and didn’t manage to spin his way through any of the batters.
Test batsman Travis Head walks from the ground looking dejected after being dismissed by Ashton Agar. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
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