Max Walker. Photo: Sahlan HayesThe resemblance is striking – Ashton Agar and Max Walker could almost be twins.
Both were batsmen who became bowlers, both batted at No.11 and both were plucked from first-class obscurity to have an immediate impact for Australia.
Agar’s shock selection in the first Test against England at Trent Bridge was beaten only by his shock 98 on debut that rescued Australia’s first innings from a big deficit to a handy lead.
His selection led to former Test off-spinner Ashley Mallett stating it was the ”best selection since Max Walker came into Ian Chappell’s team against Pakistan at the MCG in 1972” in his column for Fairfax Media on Friday.
Agar had played just 10 first-class games before his debut, while Walker had played ”10 or 12” as well.
An injury to Keith Stackpole had opened the door for Walker, who took five wickets in his first Test and then starred in the second taking 6-15.
Then Walker was brilliant in the West Indies, filling in for both Dennis Lillee and Bob Massie, with his record 26 wickets at 20.73 leading the Australians to a 2-0 series win.
The colourful 34-Test veteran said he’d have to buy Mallett ”a bottle of Grange” for his comparison to Agar, Australia’s hottest young cricketer.
”We have both batted 11 for Australia and whilst I might’ve run out of partners, [Agar] had [Phil] Hughes with him and I was riding it all the way last night,” said Walker who was guest speaker at the Queanbeyan Tigers’ long lunch on Friday.
”I was sitting on the couch at home thinking, ‘I’ve got a plane to catch to come to Canberra’, but this is one of these indelible scenarios … and I just couldn’t put it down.”
Walker said that injuries to Lillee and Jeff Thomson gave him an opportunity to establish himself in the team.
While bemoaning the lost opportunity to former ACT Comet Nathan Lyon, who made way for Agar, he hoped there was a similar opportunity for Agar to do the same.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann showed confidence in the 19-year-old to give him his debut despite the pressure of the Ashes, which would indicate he’ll be given more than one go regardless of how the rest of the first Test pans out.
”[Shane Warne] gets 0-150 in his first Test so you’ve got to say to this kid, ‘You’re going to play five Tests’ and give him confidence and I don’t think he’ll let you down,” Walker said.
”… You feel disappointed for [Lyon], but he’ll get another chance or two – 10 Test matches [against England], something’s going to happen.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.