SL Board XI v Australians, Colombo, 3rd day August 27, 2011

Beer builds his spin vocabulary


Quietly and unobtrusively, Michael Beer has bolstered his knowledge of spin bowling on the subcontinent across his first three days of cricket in Sri Lanka. Beer is a man of few words, but his left-arm orthodox vocabulary was handily expanded in the drawn tour game against Sri Lanka Board XI.

While his counterpart Nathan Lyon also had his moments, not least on the final day when Thilan Samaraweera was lured into giving his wicket away in a flurry of aggressive strokes, Beer's ability to keep the batsmen quiet and draw variable degrees of turn and bounce from the P Sara Oval pitch will have heartened the tour selectors more than his figures of 2 for 42 and 0 for 39 might suggest.

Australia's plans around spin bowling have been generally less imaginative without the genius of Shane Warne, and Beer's ability to bowl reliably - plus his greater amount of time in the Australian team dressing room - lends itself to selection for the first Test in Galle.

"It was good, I enjoyed it. The first day was a bit hot but I enjoyed being out in my first real experience of subcontinental conditions," Beer said. "I think the way the game was played I think everyone in the team benefited, especially myself bowling on day one and day three.

"It was a trial to different batsmen, the way they play, they train differently to us from a young age, and that is definitely something. Also just try a few things in different conditions. It's totally different to the WACA but it's something where you vary your pace, you see what works and you go from there.

"I feel more settled. I feel part of the group. I've wanted to help Trent [Copeland] and Nathan as they've come in, it's the sort of group where it's very easy to settle into, they're great guys and good fun to be around."

In each innings Beer began a little sluggishly before growing into his work, spinning the ball more as his fingers warmed to the task and gaining the occasional instance of bite out of the footmarks. Since learning of his selection for the tour, Beer has sought as much advice as possible while also running his eyes over plenty of footage of the Sri Lankan batsmen, and of matches played in Galle, Kandy and Colombo.

"We've done a lot of homework on their big players and all the way through to some of the blokes who played here that might play during the Test match," Beer said. "We'll do a lot of research and just back ourselves, back what we've been working on and hopefully do our job. I've definitely tried to speak to as many people as possible back home, and I've watched a lot of footage of games here, I've used that for research."

Beer and Lyon have taken similarly hard-working paths to the Test squad, playing plenty of lower grade cricket before being recognised at a higher level. They first met at an off-season spin summit and have similarly laconic gaits.

"A couple of years ago we were both at the spin camp together," Beer said. "I just got contracted and I knew SA were talking to him, we were both in a similar situation, both came from different sorts of surroundings, playing lower cricket and working our way up. I definitely respect that and saw him play his first Shield game at the WACA and he bowled really well in that. He's a great bowler and got a lot to offer."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on August 30, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    It was intended to proclaim that you were instantly aware of the facts@Doogius but the 1000 character limit left it quite poorly expressed.The CV was in rebuttal to a particularly ill mannered blogger.The general opinion concurs with the Argus view,that the only criterion for selection should be performance. Under that guise,O'Keefe would be the spinner of choice.His bowling puts him far in advance of all others in the longer formats and his batting is a distinct advantage.He has accomplished it against a number of the current opposition and England,the current Test number 1.It is only a matter of months before he and Hauritz must be the leading Test candidates for spin bowling places.I expect the selectors to come under the auspices of a follow up review of the CA administration,that @Meety believes is pending.We all have our fingers crossed that intelligence and integrity see the light of day.

  • Shane on August 30, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    @HC, even? Bad choice of words. The selectors think OK is a Od bowler only. Who knows, if we had new selectors??? And I don't need to know tae kwondo to know that :)

  • Neil on August 30, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    @jkaussie I don't understand how you think that picking okeefe would upset the balance of the team... You'd still have 6 batsman, a good keeper who's good with the bat as well, and then 4 main bowlers. His bowling record is nearly twice as good as any of Lyon, Beer or Doherty, and, although I do agree that it should not be taken into account for selection, his batting is much better too. Saying that Beer or Lyon should be picked ahead of him because batting is irrelevant is like saying Mitchell Johnson should be dropped because they don't need his batting, despite his bowling, like O'Keefe's, yielding better results than other contenders for his spot in the team.

  • Christopher on August 30, 2011, 1:40 GMT

    @jkaussie.Wrong again.Even@Doogius gets it.YOUR example,Murali is an off spinner.If O'Keefe is the same as Doherty,why his record that far superior?You have FAILED to explain it AT ALL@RandyOz has given you Kumble opposing YOUR point on NOT SPINNING,not on height@VivGilchrist has COMPELLING evidence of O'Keefes world class bowling results FIRST,to support his position AND the added batting.If Grimmett and Freedman as short spinners wont do,lets look at more.Doherty is 5'10.O'Keefe is 5'9.Harbhajan is 5'11.Swann is 6'.0.Prassana of India was a short off-spinner.Ramadhin of the WI was the same.You fail to understand the principles of finger spin.Height is useful for pace and bounce.It is rotation over the front leg,that imparts spin,either over,side spin or both.Overspin creates drop,defeating batsmen in flight.Small spinners create more loop,not less.They deliver from further below to above the eyeline.I encourage you to read 'The Art of Cricket' Bradman rates accuracy higher than turn.

  • Jon on August 29, 2011, 11:00 GMT what I said, "finger spinner", not wrist spinners like Grimmett - they are a different kettle of fish, able to get far more work on the ball because of the use of the shoulder in combination with the wrist, hence why the height isn't as important. The great ones are mostly smaller men - Murali really stands out, Grimmet, Qadir, Warne of course. miss my point and in fact Anil Kumble is a great example of what I am saying. He is tall, and let the ball go from an excellent high action, varying his pace beautifully and maximising his use of bounce; note that he improved markedly when he realised that he bowled too fast in Australia and lowered his pace to enable the ball to grip and bounce more - BUT I would still argue that had he been 5 ft 8 he wouldn't have been 1/2 as good. Bill O'reilly is another example too, very similar to Kumble by all accounts.

  • Martin on August 29, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    As an outsider, and without being funny - considering the way Hauritz has been treated, even if he was fit I think he'd find it very uncomfortable touring with the current Australian squad. I'd wonder if he would even want to go.

  • Shane on August 29, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    @JK, if wickets are the be-all, doesn't OK's 52 wickets count to Glassy's 14? Can't believe I'm even mentioning a guy with 14 FC wickets :(

  • Jeremy on August 29, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Go Beery! WA's behind ya!

  • Michael on August 29, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    I think the selectors missed a trick by not including OKeefe in the Test leg of the tour. I've not see either Lyons or Beer bowl, but from their records there isn't much between them. I'd be inclined to stick with the incumbent (if you had to pick only one) and give him more than just one Test to prove himself. Then re-evaluate your squad for the following tour. I think Hauritz would do well with a captain who can give him the fields he wants, and OKeefe has a great FC record so far so they should come back into contention. If Lyons is really that impressive then he'll continue to impress and improve his record and may be a good pick in a season or so. I still don't rate Krejza - far too inconsistent. Don't forget he was 3/200 in his first innings before getting some cheap wickets as India accelerated. Neither his record nor control seem to have improved since.

  • Randolph on August 29, 2011, 0:44 GMT

    @jkaussie, ok so let me get this straight, Anil Kumble, who was essentially a top spinner and had very little spin, was rubbish. This was a player Steve Waugh said was the toughest bowler he'd ever faced. Pull the other one mate. Results are what counts and O'Keefe is producing them consistently. As for the spinner dilemma, to throw in my 2 cents (apart from the obvious choice of O'Keefe), I'd play Lyon. He has more potential than Beer and it sounds from the articles that he is more attacking. I'm happy for him to leak a few more runs if he takes wickets. Based on the reports I read from the tour game Beer has done little but hold up and end for a while.

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