R U OK? Day conversation with the Agar brothers

8 September, 2021

Two of the three brothers born into the Agar family, Ashton and Wes, went their separate ways interstate at a young age to pursue their childhood dream of representing their country on the cricket field.

Their respective journeys have followed different paths in Western Australia and South Australia, but the cliché of life going full circle could not have rung truer than when Ashton was on hand to present Wes with Australian ODI cap number #231 in Barbados on 21 July.

A cap presentation minutes before your international debut is one of a cricketer’s proudest moments and although the Agar family couldn’t be at Kensington Oval, Ashton and Wes being there for one another made the moment special.

As part of an R U OK? Day conversation, we caught up with the Agar brothers to chat about that day, how their relationship has strengthened and how they know when one another needs some support.

What was the moment like at Wes’s cap presentation?

Wes: It was emotional. If I had to use a word, it was emotional. My journey to getting my cap has been a bit unknown at times, I’m sure every player goes through but there have been times where you question whether you’re good enough to make it at that level or even domestic level. So, I’ve been through a lot of those periods in my short career, I’ve only been a professional cricketer for six years now. When I found out I was going to play, the emotion of all that sort of hit and it was a kid realising his dream, I guess. It was a really emotional time and I remember getting back in my hotel room and Ashton was there and the emotion came out of me and I just hugged him, it was a special moment.

Ashton: Easily my best moment of my cricketing career. I don’t know if anything will ever top that, we’ll wait and see it. Presenting him with his first Australian cap, I’ve never felt pride like that in my life. I was obviously very emotional and I’m super proud of him. All we wanted to do, growing up in the backyard – myself, Will and Wes, all of us dreamt of doing that. So, to do that with Wes was incredibly special it’s hard to put into words really.

Was it tough not having the remainder of the Agar family there?

Ashton: It was a weird one because even though everyone else wasn’t there, the fact that Wes and I had each other there it certainly felt like family was there. In a perfect world, it would’ve been amazing to see that moment and feel the emotion of what it felt like on the ground. But I know they would’ve been just as proud watching on tv or whatever they had to watch it on than if they were at the ground in the moment so that’s a really tough question to answer because you can’t do anything about it but it didn’t change the moment, it was still incredibly special.

Wes: Yes and no. For me, Ash was there so that was family. And I guess in this Covid world, I’ve been in South Australia for so long with them in Melbourne that you sort of get used to giving them a ring and saying “hey I’m playing tonight” and they watch from TV but obviously, in the ideal world, I would’ve loved for them to be there. More so, for them, more than anything, they’ve given me everything that I’ve achieved so being there would’ve been a really special moment for them but unfortunately it wasn’t the case.

What are some of the signs you look for to know if one another needs a bit of support or a phone call?

Wes: We know each other so well, so it’s almost like an instinctual thing, for me. I can just sense when he’s not right, growing up next to someone and you know them so well, you just have a feeling when something’s up. I think he has that same feeling with me, so it’s just a matter of saying how’re you going? It’s just a matter of striking a conversation and I think he’s done it for me more times than I’ve done it for him but I like to think that he knows that I’m there, if ever he needed it.

Ashton: With Wes, it’s if I haven’t heard from him for a while, he spends a lot of time by himself, which we do quite a lot of, we’re quite used to it having moved out of home at a young age. It’s in those times when you don’t have a lot of family around you and you’re immersed in your cricket and that’s pretty much it that things can start to weigh on your mind or when you’re a little bit more vulnerable so it’s reaching out to him as any brother would during those times.

On breaking down the ‘big brother’ barrier…

Wes: I think for Ash, it’s striking that conversation. He’s my big brother and I think sometimes it could be tough for him to show that emotion to someone who he is a leader for or a mentor for basically, too. As a big brother I think it’s embedded in him to put on a brave face and stay strong but I think as our relationship has grown as brothers and as mates, those walls have come down and in conversation, he shows his softer side and it’s a really cool thing to have with anyone let alone your brother.

Ashton: I think in the past, it’s certainly been that way, it was difficult to talk to my family or anybody about the struggles that I’ve had in the mental health realm, because I was the oldest brother and you want to be seen as being strong for your family and being that strong figure that leads the way. You almost want to be seen as impenetrable and I think any young male kind of thinks that way, but now that I’ve been open my god it feels so much better. Now, Wes and I have had in-depth conversations about what we’ve been through and an understanding of what that is and what that means going forward, it’s certainly broken-down whatever barriers there were, I’m comfortable speaking with Wes now whenever I need to.

On R U OK? Day…

Wes: It’s very easy for people to put on a smile and say “I’m fine.” I think the hardest part is having the courage to look your mate in the eye and say “are you actually okay?” It’s not about saying it once, it’s about saying it a few times and them knowing that you seriously care. I think especially for males, it’s hard to be open. But the best relationships are built around being open and having that trust for one another and knowing that those people are there for you so, never be afraid to speak up.

Ashton: The one consistent thing I always like to say is to understand. I think plenty of people look for the answers and often you’re not going to have the answers, the best thing you can do is listen. Listen and let the other person talk and just look to understand their situation. There’s often a myriad of factors that can lead to someone having a tough time but if you listen, you might pick up on a couple of things here and there and you might really be able to help somebody. But often, people just want someone to hear what they have to say, I think that’s the message I want to give.


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