Spinner Ashton Agar, who became just the second Australian to claim a T20I hat-trick, has revealed that a recent chat with India’s Ravindra Jadeja inspired him.
Agar’s spell of 5/24, which included a hat-trick in the eighth over of South Africa’s chase, headlined Australia’s comfortable 107-run win on Friday, 21 February. Agar’s was only the second hat-trick by an Australian after Brett Lee took one against Bangladesh in 2007, which was the first-ever in T20Is.
He snared Faf du Plessis, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Dale Steyn off successive balls, as South Africa slipped from 44/4 to 44/7, and eventually fell well short of their 197-run target.
Interestingly, Agar revealed that he was ‘feeling horrible’ in the lead up to the T20I, the first of three in the series, but found his rhythm when he started bowling on a turning Wanderers surface.
“It’s funny, I was actually feeling horrible [coming] into the game. Obviously, when the wicket turns a bit, [the spinners] get a bit of assistance and your job is made a bit easier, you get on a roll and you keep going.”
Agar interacted with Jadeja during Australia’s ODI tour of India earlier this year, picking the brains of the No.3 ranked Test all-rounder in the world after India’s 2-1 series win.
“I had a wonderful chat with Ravindra Jadeja after the India series,” Agar later said. “He’s my favourite player in the world – I want to play cricket like he does.”
Much like Jadeja early in his career, Agar has developed his batting to evolve into a sound all-rounder. He gave Australia’s innings late impetus with a brisk nine-ball 20, before returning to claim the best T20I figures by an Australian bowler.
“He’s [Jadeja’s] an absolute rockstar: smacks them, gun fielder, and spins the ball. But it’s just his presence when he’s out there, watching his confidence… just talking to him about spin bowling, keep trying to spin the ball.
“When he’s batting he has a really positive attitude, and he takes that attitude into the field as well. So I was pretty inspired by talking to him.”
Having made his debut in 2013, Agar has never nailed down a spot in the side but hopes that the five-wicket haul helps him become a mainstay.
“I think that’s always the biggest challenge … when you’re in and out, just to keep putting yourself out there,” he said. “You have to believe in yourself at the end of the day because you are the only person you have when you’re performing out there. You have your teammates, but only you can perform your true skill.”