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WEEKLY FEATURE - STEPHEN ESKINAZI GIVES US THE LOWDOWN ON ASHTON AGAR

4 days ago|Player

STEPHEN ESKINAZI GIVES US THE LOWDOWN ON ASHTON AGAR

Middlesex have made an indifferent start to the Vitality Blast – but Stevie Eskinazi knows just the man to kick-start the Seaxes’ campaign.

Eskinazi’s close friend Ashton Agar jets in next week with the aim of galvanising a Middlesex side who have lost two of their first three South Group fixtures.

Agar is expected to make his county debut against Somerset at Lord’s on July 19 – and Eskinazi is looking forward to joining forces with the Australian all-rounder for the first time since their days in state cricket.

Their respective families are eagerly awaiting Middlesex’s next Blast game as well – in fact, Agar’s father John and Eskinazi’s dad Rob are both flying in from their Melbourne homes to watch their sons in action.

“Ash and I played together for Western Australia Under-19s way back in 2012, but now my parents live about 1km away from his parents and they’re pretty much best friends as well,” said Eskinazi.

“I actually saw John when we played at Chelmsford last week and it was big hugs all round. It’ll be great to have a few familiar faces from home and I’m buzzing for Ash to come over.

“My old man and his old man will be having a beer while their sons are playing over the next couple of months – and I’m sure it’ll help Ash settle in to have them heckling us like they would if we were playing club cricket in Australia.

“We played against each other recently in the Australia tour game at Lord’s – when he did get me out – but I had to give him something to boost his confidence, now he’s a team-mate of mine!

“We’ve had a lot of backyard cricket, a lot of barbecues and the odd night out here and there, but it’ll be good to play on the same team as him and hopefully both contribute towards Middlesex getting qualification.”

Agar, who will be available for the remainder of the tournament, brings an impressive T20 pedigree to Lord’s – he has won 13 caps for Australia in the short format and helped Perth Scorchers to three Big Bash titles.

“Anyone who’s watched Ash knows he plays cricket with a smile on his face and an energy not many people have, which I think is going to be infectious for the group,” Eskinazi added.

“That’s coupled with his unbelievable skill – he’s so versatile in all three facets. He can bat anywhere from one to six, bowl anywhere in the innings and he’s one of the better fielders in the game.

“So he’s probably going to slot into a number of roles for us. I think he’s a real game-winner and he’s going to fit in perfectly.”

As well as playing alongside Agar, the 24-year-old batsman could even find himself captaining his old mate at some stage during the Blast.

With Dawid Malan and Steven Finn both unavailable, Eskinazi was handed the reins for the first time in Middlesex’s three-wicket defeat to Essex.

He admitted: “It’d be quite a turn from playing together in state Under-19s to captaining him at Lord’s! No-one could have thought that back then.

“To lead a club like Middlesex, especially at a young age, is a huge honour and an amazing opportunity. It’s nice to know you’re thought of in that capacity.

“We have some great leaders at this club and I’ve just tried to be a sponge with regard to them over the last few years, watching the way they read the game and seeing if I can take any tips not only as a player, but hopefully as a leader in the future.”

Thanks to Ben Kosky of the ECB Reporters Network for supplying this article.

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