Beer's case bolstered by Maxwell's struggles
Should Glenn Maxwell go to India on next month's tour it will only be as Australia's third-choice spinner, with Michael Beer heavily favoured to be named the second spinner behind Nathan Lyon, for the four-Test series.
Earlier this summer, Maxwell was chosen ahead of Beer as the lone spinner in the Australia A team that faced the South Africans at the SCG, and was later 12th man for the Test on the same ground. But his struggles for wickets against Sri Lanka's batsmen have made it clear that the Victorian allrounder is still well short of international standard as a bowler.
Known for his customary brio in interviews and the dressing room, Maxwell has admitted that so far, the Sri Lankans have had much the better of him. In this his comments recalled Stuart MacGill when he was rendered bereft by India's batsmen during the 2003-04 summer. Giving away 50.78 runs per wicket during the series, MacGill remarked that it wasn't so much that the visitors could read what he was bowling, more that they didn't care.
"Their (Sri Lanka's) feet are a lot crisper, they go forward and back a lot easier and they seem to have a lot better idea on where they can hit and where they can score," Maxwell said. "They've been excellent in the few games I've played against them. It's been tough. I played the Chairman XI's game [in Canberra] and they played me really well and hit me to wherever they wanted.
"I've been coming on when they've been consolidating their partnership or there wasn't a whole lot of pressure. The other night they were 30 runs away from winning. Any time when you come on as a spin bowler on a seaming wicket it's not a good time to come on, especially if we've only got 170 on the board and that was the batters' fault. I've got to keep hanging in there."
Six matches into his ODI career, Maxwell remains wicketless, and scores of five and eight in the first two matches against Sri Lanka did not inspire a great deal of confidence with the bat either. Beer meanwhile has been bowling solidly as ever for the Perth Scorchers in the BBL, digging the ball into the pitch and changing his pace in a manner reminiscent of the best method for taking wickets in India.
Beer's summer has not always appeared likely to end with a spot on Australia's next Test tour. At the start of the summer the national selector John Inverarity indicated that another left-armer, Jon Holland, was the man next in line behind Lyon. Holland was then invalided out of the season with a serious shoulder injury, but Maxwell was preferred for Australia A. Before that match, Inverarity spoke of Beer in measured and not altogether promising tones.
"Michael is well regarded and is a good, steady spinner," Inverarity had said. "We feel that he's a known quantity, we don't need to find out a lot more. And he'll be bowling in the Shield game [for Western Australia v Victoria]. It's an ideal opportunity for Glenn Maxwell. You're the spinner, you get on with it, and see how he responds to that."
Now that Maxwell has admitted this spin-bowling business is not easy, Beer's known quantity will be more reassuring for Inverarity and his panel.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here