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Michael Beer hoping to hold his Test spot

Brydon Coverdale

May 31, 2011

Comments: 19 | Text size: A | A

Michael Beer will make his debut during the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney, Sydney, January 2, 2011
Michael Beer is at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, preparing for the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe © AFP
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Last May, Michael Beer flew to Brisbane for "spin week" at the Centre of Excellence as a bit of a nobody. At 25, he hadn't played a first-class game and had just taken up a contract with Western Australia, having spent several seasons trying, and failing, to break into Victoria's side. A year later, he's back at spin week as the Test incumbent.

It's been quite a year for Beer, who walked off the SCG after Australia's demoralising innings defeat in the final Ashes Test in January, not knowing if he'd done enough to hold his spot. He took only one wicket, but had gone within millimetres of a potential match-changing breakthrough, when he had Alastair Cook caught on 46 off a no-ball. Cook went on to make 189.

"I bowled okay at times," Beer told ESPNcricinfo from Brisbane on Tuesday, reflecting on his Test debut. "At other times I let, not just myself, but my team down a little bit. But I think overall it was a great learning experience. I enjoyed it, except for the result. But I got a taste of it and that's where I want to be. It's something to strive hard for.

"There were a lot of things I knew I had to work on. A major one with me is getting my mind and body right to play cricket 12 months of the year. I've only had one season of first-class cricket. I got myself ready for that but now it's about lifting that again and getting myself ready to play cricket 12 months of the year."

Part of that challenge will involve next month's Australia A tour to Zimbabwe. Beer is in the squad for the four-day matches alongside the offspinner Jason Krejza. They'll be competing for a place on Australia's next Test tour, to Sri Lanka in August, by which time Nathan Hauritz will also be in contention if he can prove he has recovered after having shoulder surgery in March.

And as the tenth slow bowler Australia have called on in the post-Warne era, Beer knows that turnover can be quick and ruthless in the spin division. He himself won his Test promotion after Xavier Doherty was axed following the first two Ashes Tests, and Doherty was a surprise call-up at the start of the summer when Nathan Hauritz was dropped.

The rise to Test ranks came when Beer had played only six first-class matches, and after finishing the summer in Western Australia's Sheffield Shield side, he has still not taken more than three wickets in a first-class innings. That makes the Zimbabwe tour all the more important for Beer, whose only cricketing experience outside Australia has been in England.

"It's just going to be a good experience to go away with such a talented group of guys," Beer said. "It's a massive thing for me to get away and face different conditions to what I'm used to in Australia. And to play cricket at that time of the year will be very good as well."

Beer has spent the past few weeks at the Centre of Excellence, working with the spin coach John Davison, and during spin week he has also talked tactics with Saqlain Mushtaq, who has been called in as a consultant. But with Krejza, Hauritz, Steve O'Keefe, Jon Holland, Nathan Lyon and nine other slow bowlers all at spin week as well, he knows the competition for a Test spot won't be easy.

"I think we're all different spinners," Beer said. "I just concentrate on what I need to work on and improve on. It's handy to have all their knowledge around, too."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by AKS286 on (June 3, 2011, 18:36 GMT) is the future of spin bowling. he is better than hauritz,o'keefe, dohetory, must be in the all three formats of the game. beer must play the next WC.the left arm spin bowler are always lethal. go beer go.

Posted by Meety on (June 1, 2011, 2:16 GMT)

I was fortunate enough to have been camping for most of the Sydney test, so I didn't get to see how well Beer bowled, only heard that he bowled better than his stats suggested. Historically Oz batsmen have batted VERY well against spinners in Oz. That is particularly true at State level. This can be seen particularly in the case of Hauritz who's 1st class average is over 40 but his Test ave is a respectable 34. Even Warne had a higher Shield average then Test average. Beer needs to play another season of Shield at least & get his FC average down to 40, that to me means he would be capable of an average around 35, until then the pecking order has to be 1. Hauritz, 2. O'Keefe, 3. Lyon, 4. Smith, 5. Beer with C Bailey a smokey that I'd love to see given more of a chance. The best thing about the spinners mentioned is that Hauritz is the oldest of the lot @ 28. I'd keep Doherty for short format (T20 in particular), as that was what he excelled at in the 1st place!

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 1, 2011, 0:48 GMT)

Every spot in the test team should be included in this post-Ashes review, and Beer is a near certainty to lose his. My vote goes to O'Keefe/Krejza/Hauritz. Having just been made aware that the Aus team travel without a spin coach, and yet toted the reverse-swing-guru-Cooley around for years,...well, I'll be gobsmacked to see what comes of all this.

Posted by smudgeon on (May 31, 2011, 23:51 GMT)

True, Winsome, but I live in hope! Bit silly of me.

Posted by Cam_PT on (May 31, 2011, 23:14 GMT)

It's still just as shocking today to read about Beer as it was when he was selected. Everyone else has said it here; O'Keefe and Hauritz are the only two bowlers worth considering, with Krejza a distant third. And not only that but both O'Keefe and Hauritz can bat as well.

Posted by Winsome on (May 31, 2011, 16:20 GMT)

Smudgeon, just because someone who knows about spin says it, it doesn't mean our selectors in their mad world will listen. The biggest indictment of them - especially of the chairman, Hilditch in the post-Warne world - is their ridiculous and quite frankly childish behaviour around spin bowlers.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2011, 14:10 GMT)

Hauritz and O'Keefe - especially O'Keefe - are the future of Aussie spinners.

How O'Keefe isn't on the first class leg of the Zimbabwe tour is beyond me. He should be first choice spinner in Sri Lanka.

Posted by Okakaboka on (May 31, 2011, 14:09 GMT)

Geez, none of you get it! O'Keefe must have told Hilditch his mother wears army boots or something and therefore he'll never represent Australia.....Just as Brad Hodge must have done! Seriously, just pick O'Keefe and stop this ridiculous debate. He is miles ahead of the other spinners. I'd have Maxwell as the number two spinner....he is NO WORSE than the others...yes, that's right NO WORSE.....and he can bat really well....particularly in ODI or 20-20 games.

Posted by fazald on (May 31, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

The inclusion of Saqlain Mushtaq as a spin bowling consultant by Cricket Australia is a good move to train our bowlers in the art of good spin bowling. He is the architect of the mystery ball the "doosra" which was introduced in the late 1990's and helped Muralitharan to reap a haul of wickets & break the world record. Saqlain was the best spin bowler in world cricket after Murali & Warne & I am sure he could play a vital role in moulding our ordinary spin bowling attack to world standards.I reckon that he should be appointed as Australia's spin bowling coach on a permanent basis at the end of his term as a consultant to help & guide our spinners in the art of good spin bowling.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (May 31, 2011, 12:19 GMT)

Am out of the loop a bit in London and not seeing some of these players but Steve O'Keefe is the only one who has even reasonable figures (most of the rest have the average of a opening batsmen who turns his arm over) but appears to be about 12th cab off the rank. If that. Anyone got an explanation? From what i saw of Beer (& Doherty & Krejza etc etc )he looked a pie-thrower as Rod Marsh used to call the English fodder.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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