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scotlands-win-is-great-for-australia---ashton-agar

Scotland's win is great for Australia - Ashton Agar

ESPNCricInfo - Monday 11th June, 2018

8:44 AM ET

There were many interested observers of the scenes at The Grange on Sunday and a group of them were in London on a day off before their final preparations for the one-day series against England. Scotland's victory is being seen by the Australians as a timely boost before their new-look team takes the field at The Oval on Wednesday.

England remain considerable favourites for the five-match series against an Australia side missing six first-choice players - David Warner, Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood - but the visitors are chipper after two warm-up wins. Even in this new era of toned-down sledging from Australia, it would be a surprise if England's stumble in Edinburgh wasn't given the occasional mention when the two sides meet.

"It was a really interesting game yesterday, good for us that England lost that game, great for Scotland as a country, and as a cricketing nation it's really exciting for them," Ashton Agar said.

"It's about momentum and having had a couple of practice games and got a couple of wins, it's great for us. For us it's good that England didn't win because you always want to start with a win."

Agar said that Australia's squad had a "nice refreshed" feel to it and was particularly excited at the prospect of tall quick bowler Billy Stanlake taking on the powerful England batting line-up. Stanlake impressed against Middlesex in his one run-out before the series, troubling batsmen with his bounce and pace.

"You have a couple of really good players who aren't in the mix at the moment, having said that, we do have a really versatile squad, an injection of youth which is always helpful, so there's a lot of energy and a lot of players who are really believing in themselves at the moment.

"You could say maybe [the squad is weakened] slightly without that 150kph Mitchell Starc coming in, but you have another 150kph in Billy Stanlake ... if you take out 100 one-day wickets or whatever Starcy has, it will change things a little bit, but it's a great chance for Billy to show his stuff, bowl 150ks and hopefully rip through them."

On a personal level, Agar is set for a key position in the Australia line-up having established himself as the main spinner ahead of Nathan Lyon at the start of the tour and being entrusted with the No. 7 slot in both warm-up matches. Coach Justin Langer has given a strong indication that Australia will go with an extra bowling option which makes Agar's batting ability crucial

"I think the rise of Big Bash cricket has really helped my batting in white-ball cricket," he said. "I come in at the end a lot in Big Bash games and try and finish the job. I work very hard on my batting and try and build on that, so to start off with a couple of 20s was pleasing."

The Oval will be just Agar's fifth ODI since he made his debut against England at Old Trafford in 2015 - although English audiences are more likely to remember him for his 98 on Test debut batting at No. 11 in the 2013 Ashes - and he now feels a more rounded cricketer.

"I'm really confident, feel like I'm bowling quite nicely especially with the white ball," he said. "I have better understanding of the game and a better self belief."

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