Ashton Agar may have set up Australia for an unlikely Ashes Test win, but he may also have set himself up for life.
Not only did the 19-year-old debutant crack the highest score by a No.11 batsman in cricket history, he did it with Errol Flynn’s daring and the boyish charm of Harry from One Direction.
Good looking, articulate, intelligent, with an exotic heritage – and, apparently, some cricketing promise – Agar is a marketer’s dream.
And although his manager, Jason Bakker, said there would be no rush to put pen to paper, there’s little doubt that with one exceptional sporting moment, Agar has thrust himself in the realm of modern cricket’s super rich, with the potential to follow the likes of Australian players Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian and Cameron White into the Indian Premier League, where they have scored contracts in the region of $1 million each.
In fact, he may well be worth more than that, with some pundits predicting his Sri Lankan heritage (Agar’s mother is Sri Lankan) could help boost his popularity on the subcontinent.
“If the organisers of the IPL or the Sri Lankan Premier League think that [Agar’s Sri Lankan] background is a bonus, that’s up to them,” Bakker told Fairfax Media on Friday. “You can see that he’s a Test cricketer. The IPL and the other stuff, he can look at that another time. It’s all happened so quickly. For me, it’s about developing his game. He’s got five Test matches in England and the only thing on his mind now should be that he’s got to get up in the morning and get ready to take a few wickets.”
That will be hard. Bakker, who also manages Cadel Evans, said his phone was ringing hot on Friday. “It’s like Cadel winning the Tour de France all over again,” Bakker said. “It’s crazy. It’s the stuff of fantasy. It’s something that’s unified everyone. There’s no controversy about it; everyone’s behind it. It’s been overwhelming and I really think it’s going to bring a lot of people back to cricket.” Australia’s highest-earning cricketer is captain Michael Clarke, who was estimated to have pocketed $5.5 million in 2012 by BRW.
Bakker said he’d fielded calls from bat makers keen to sponsor Agar and from companies hoping for introductions and meetings. But Bakker, a former first-class cricketer for Victoria, said that unless his client backed up his performance, those calls would soon fade. That might not be entirely right, according to Dominic Thornely, who manages Brett Lee, Pat Cummins and Tim Cahill, among others.
With that one innings, Thornely said Agar had put in place a marketing base for years to come. “The last time there was a special debut was Pat Cummins and the reaction to that went on for a long time,” Thornely said. “It’s been nearly two years since Pat played for Australia; he had that one Test, took six wickets, seven in the match, won man-of-the-match and the whole country was wondering who he was. It just rolled on for quite some time. I think the same thing will happen here. In 12 months’ time we’ll still be talking about Ashton Agar’s first game, regardless of what happens now. And down the track there will be plenty of sportsmen’s nights and corporate lunches where he’ll be able to tell the story and cash in on it.”
Agar had been using playing gear given to him by a close cricketing friend who started his own company and, on day one of the match at Trent Bridge, had his good karma returned with interest.
Michael Sheedy was Agar’s first-grade captain at Melbourne club Richmond, where the bowling all-rounder began playing when he was 15, and where his two younger brothers still play. Sheedy, who had worked in cricket retail since he was 18, began a company prophetically called TNF, or Tails Never Fails, after Mark Taylor called tails each time in the 1997 Ashes and won five in a row.
”It was great when he was nearly stumped on 31 and they had all the close-ups of the bat. It was a bit surreal,” Sheedy said. ”I was just so happy he was not out. I’m so proud to see him develop.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.