More Aussie players may prefer T20 leagues: Ashton Agar

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | June 01, 2024 IST

Ashton Agar

New Delhi, June 1: With so much lucrative Twenty cricket leagues being played across the globe, many star players have directly or indirectly hinted about their liking for huge bucks than signing contracts with their respective national teams.

Australian spinner  Ashton Agar has opted for a similar option. But he feels more players from Australia may follow his way.

Agar has taken a bold step to opt out of state and national contracts. Agar has embraced the life of a T20 freelancer, signalling a shift that could become commonplace among cricketers in the coming years. 

Agar's decision marks a significant turn in his career, prioritising flexibility and global opportunities over the traditional security of state and national contracts. His move comes at a pivotal moment, as he prepares to don Australian colours again for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

The spinner, who has had limited international exposure over the past 18 months, is poised to rejoin the squad as Adam Zampa's spinning partner on pitches expected to favour spin.

"What I've learned is that you can't cling on to safety in your skills and then your contracts," Agar told cricket.com.au's Unplayable Podcast in Trinidad.

"I've made that mistake before and your cricket skills fall away, if you're clinging on to safety and security.

"I think a lot of people are going to do what I've just done in the coming years. We'll see it a lot more next year, more the year after – and that's just going to be the way cricket works.

"Because there's so much T20 cricket around the world, guys aren't going to want to take contracts that lock them into certain things,” he added.

This transition to a freelance career isn’t without precedent. Fellow Australian cricketers like Tim David, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, and Jason Behrendorff have already ventured down this path, foregoing state contracts to explore the lucrative world of global T20 leagues. Agar's experience in recent warm-up matches against Namibia and the West Indies has reignited his passion for the game and reinforced his belief in this new career trajectory.

Despite his new freelance status, Agar remains committed to Australian cricket, particularly the upcoming T20 World Cup. With the tournament expected to favour spin-friendly conditions, his partnership with Zampa could prove crucial. The pair's camaraderie, strengthened by time spent together in northern New South Wales, bodes well for their on-field synergy.

"It had been really positive (messaging from national selectors) the whole time that if we were going to take two spinners I was going to go," said Agar.

"So I was preparing for most of the summer with this in the back of my mind. That's nice because you can wrap your head around it mentally a little earlier and prepare."

While embracing the freelance lifestyle, Agar isn’t entirely turning his back on other formats. He expressed a desire to continue playing 50-over and first-class cricket when available, maintaining ties with Western Australia through his contract with the Perth Scorchers. However, he acknowledges the reduced likelihood of red-ball cricket opportunities given his freelance commitments.

Reflecting on his future, Agar remains open to Test cricket but views it with a new perspective.

"Definitely, not (finished with red-ball cricket)," said Agar. "It's about availability and how things work out. I want to play whatever cricket I'm available to play.

"Naturally, not taking a contract means that you play less red-ball cricket because you're not around for it as much – and that's fine. I've wrapped my head around that.

"Test cricket to me is not the be-all and end-all of cricket now. So if that (Test selection) happened, I'd play, but it's not something I cling on to that tightly.

"For me, those opportunities come in the subcontinent anyway, so if that happens, it happens, and I'll do my best."

This summer, Agar will join the English county club Northamptonshire for a four-game stint after the T20 World Cup and hopes for a spot in The Hundred.

"I'm not daunted by it, I'm really excited," he said. "You have to have some courage, because you do get a bit nervous at times when you go into a new team, and you don't know anyone, it's on the other side of the world, and you're straight off a plane and you have to go and impress straightaway.

"That's tough work, it takes a lot of courage and a fair bit of mental strength.

"The key is being available. There's always replacements, there's always a league that pops up and to be available at a day's notice to go and fly and play that competition is crucial. That's me now I guess," Agar concluded.

A professional cricketer's playing career mostly lasts for about 10 to15 years. So a player preferring more financial returns over national team contract is totally strange. But it depends on the concerned player whether to opt for national contract or prefer more money from T20 cricket outside. Agar's claims however, will be clear in future. (With IANS support)

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