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Beer's case bolstered by Maxwell's struggles

Daniel Brettig

January 15, 2013

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

After all the talk, Michael Beer may not make the starting XI against England, Perth, December 15, 2010
Michael Beer has been bowling solidly as ever for the Perth Scorchers in the BBL © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by Meety on (January 18, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

@Moppa on (January 16 2013, 10:20 AM GMT) - I think the NSP are lured by Maxwell's batting stats first, then his bowling stats. Batting-wise he does not look like a Test batsmen, but he scores consistantly (& quickly). Add to bowling that seems to wink out wickets in the Shield ( no easy feat), they wonder whether he could replicate at Test level. I am a bit hot & cold on him. At one point I thought he might be a specialist batsmen that bowls a bit of useful spin, now I am not sure.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2013, 4:36 GMT)

I reckon Hauritz needs to be tossed something, hes a great spin bowler with expierence that just needs confidence.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 16, 2013, 21:52 GMT)

@James_Murphy. Fair comment, but when they have gone head to head at the SCG, SOK has finished clearly the better bowler, again due to his experience on these type of tracks. But will we face Perth type pitches in India or SCG types of pitches? That said, Beer has shown enough to suggest he can improve, & from what I have seen in shield games at the SCG, Maxwell is a long, long way behind both these bowlers. He isn't even a front line spinner. Shaun Marsh? His form is awful in first class (dropped form the WA shield team) & is even struggling getting runs in Perth grade. For tests, he is so far over the horizon, it's not funny. Huss short term is a good call (as long as he starts scoring runs on the resumption of the Shield). Too long producing quality results cannot be ignored.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (January 16, 2013, 21:09 GMT)

Someone posted that Beer outbowled Lyon in WI..... On checking the stats in the only Test Beer played he took 2 wickets while Lyon took a 5 for. As usual uninformed comments make it through......

Posted by James_Murphy on (January 16, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

@Meety good call re Panesar's figures that game. He is an underrated bowler. Beer not in his class. I guess I haven't seen enough of SOK to back him in but would love for him to get a chance at least in the touring party. By the third or fourth test it could even be Beer and SOK together leading the attack if Lyon's variety continues to be 89mph, 90, 89, 90, 89, 91, 90, 89. 90, 89, 91, 90.

Posted by Meety on (January 16, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

@James_Murphy on (January 16 2013, 08:44 AM GMT) - fair enough, but early in SO'Ks career he often played with Hauritz & Smith (Smith did actually take wickets once upon a time). re: Panesar, he took 8/237 for that match which was NOT that bad!

Posted by Moppa on (January 16, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

No news here - the underlying headline is "Glenn Maxwell is not an international quality spinner". Apparently the only people in Australia who didn't already know this are the NSP. As for Beer being next in line, that is the author's (reasonable) assumption. As many here have noted, O'Keefe is out of favour despite offering the interesting possibility of playing five bowlers in India. Hauritz, Boyce and Zampa are nowhere near. Whilst I'm not exactly excited by the prospect, and I doubt Cheteshwar Pujara is quaking in his boots, I think Beer will acquit himself well in India.

Posted by James_Murphy on (January 16, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

@Meety SOK bowls 50% of the time at the SCG, Beer the WACA. I know who should have the better figures. Not sticking up for Beer here but you can't always go off Stats. Also remember what Gilly did to Panesar at the WACA, nearly ended his career. Give Beer a chance if he is selected, will be dangerous. I'd take DHussey and Shaun Marsh as 5 and 6, Huss can bowl 15 overs if required. Shaun Marsh's record in sub continent one of the best in the country in all forms.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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