SL Board XI v Australians, Colombo, 3rd day

Beer builds his spin vocabulary

Daniel Brettig at P Sara Oval

August 27, 2011

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Michael Beer in action, South Australia v Western Australia, Sheffield Shield, Adelaide, October 30, 2010
Michael Beer: "I think the way the game was played I think everyone in the team benefited, especially myself bowling on day one and day three." (file photo) © Getty Images
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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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by hyclass on (August 30, 2011, 12:32 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.

Posted by Doogius on (August 30, 2011, 10:25 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 :)

Posted by neilddd on (August 30, 2011, 7:22 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.

Posted by hyclass on (August 30, 2011, 2:40 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.

Posted by jkaussie on (August 29, 2011, 12:00 GMT)

@hyclass...read 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. @RandyOz...you 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.

Posted by 5wombats on (August 29, 2011, 10:55 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.

Posted by Doogius on (August 29, 2011, 9:15 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 :(

Posted by cmonaussiecmon on (August 29, 2011, 9:10 GMT)

Go Beery! WA's behind ya!

Posted by bobagorof on (August 29, 2011, 5:14 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.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 29, 2011, 1:44 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.

Posted by hyclass on (August 29, 2011, 0:39 GMT)

@jkaussie.Please continue to diminish your reputation,by making statements that lack any specific evidence.If Doherty & O'Keefe both dont turn the ball,why are O'Keefes figures so much better?By default,he MUST be doing something differently from Doherty.He IS the variable.It is implied that O'Keefe and Doherty ARE different by virtue of their RESULTS.Ergo,whatever that difference is,YOU have failed to observe it and the ignorance you claim for others,is ALL your own.I AM a qualified cricket coach,have captain-coached,played local SL Oldboys,coached juniors,have a Black Belt in Taekwando,where ive taught up to Olympic standard and high gradings in Wing Chun,where i also teach privately.I am widely read and am aware,that you have not the vestige of a case.By your auspices,short spinners like Titch Freedman and Grimmet,a round armer wouldnt get a game,despite amazing results.Your assertions are the kind of generalised un-Australian prejudice,that Argus was called upon to eliminate.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (August 28, 2011, 23:02 GMT)

Jkaussie, let me write this in a way in which you can understand. ...OKeefe is twice a good a bowler as Beer, as his record shows. He might not be as tall, he might not spin it as far, but he actually takes wickets , and at an average of 24.

Posted by dsig3 on (August 28, 2011, 21:01 GMT)

Worst thing to be an Australian spinner at the moment. The amount of media coverage on you is just insane. Why are there so many articles written on Beer and Lyon? Realistically, they are one or two of 11 guys who play the game. Why is the international media so interested in our spin bowling, or lack thereof?

Posted by jkaussie on (August 28, 2011, 14:09 GMT)

@vivgilchrist...you pick batsmen to make runs, keepers to be the leader in the field and bowlers to take wickets. If they do anything else that is a bonus but not a reason to get picked. So to pick a spin bowler to take wickets, what he does with the bat is actually immaterial...that is very easy to understand, I'm surprised you didn't pick it up.

Posted by jkaussie on (August 28, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

@hyclass...the connection between Doherty and O'Keefe is that they both do NOT turn it. Now turn on its own does not create problems, flight and drift as well as changes of pace plus some turn does - address your ignorance and go and speak with a qualified coach, they will confirm this. Also, ask those coaches about height and see what they say. Letting the ball go from a significantly high action for a finger spinner enables them to get the ball above the eyes of the batsmen more easily (which generally translates into flight and drift), generates more bounce and because the lever is longer will help create revs on the ball if accompanied by good finger work. As for supporting evidence? Lance Gibbs, Ashley Mallett, Harbhajan Singh, Ray Price, John Bracewell, even Tony Greig to some extent - all pretty tall gents and all with pretty good records.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (August 28, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

Thank you hyclass, I was going to answer jkaussie but you did it for me. Jk, you see I was not saying we need a spin bowling all rounder, I was saying that OKeefe is twice as good as Beer with the ball (as his record shows) and as a bonus he averages 36 with the bat. But even if he was equal on talent with the ball (averaging a very poor 45 or so, like Beer) you will still pick the guy who can pitch in with the bat. I really didn't think it was that hard to understand.

Posted by hyclass on (August 28, 2011, 11:59 GMT)

@jkaussie..An utterly ridiculous theory and exactly the kind of behaviour that the Argus Review was set up to stamp out.Your opinion has no supporting evidence at all.Exactly how tall should a spin bowler be and how far should they spin it?All that ever matters is results.O'Keefe and those who support his inclusion have the evidence of outstanding results accomplished against top quality opposition.Where is the connection between Doherty and O'Keefe other than left arm spin? By the same reasoning,we might just as well not pick Copeland,Siddle,Pattinson or Harris,because Hilfenhaus did poorly and is also a right arm fast bowler.O'Keefe made 66 and 27 and took 4 for 88 of 24 overs against England,the world number 1 team,in Nov 2010.He took 7 for 35 and made 61 and 47 against SL A.He took 3 for 29 against Pakistan. Unless he was paying the players of all those teams plenty,to perform poorly against only him,my best guess and that of those who support his inclusion,is that HE CAN PLAY.

Posted by popcorn on (August 28, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

Very confusing - is it going to be Beer or Lyons? Where is Nathan Hauritz? What did Xavier Doherty do wrong to become a Test discard so soon?

Posted by jkaussie on (August 28, 2011, 9:21 GMT)

To all of you advocating Steve O'Keefe, why would we bother picking a spinner that does not turn the ball? The Doherty selection showed how useless that option is in test cricket. O'Keefe is a good cricketer, no doubt, but just a handy one. For all his attributes he does not get enough on the ball nor is he tall enough to gt drop and flight. @VivGilchrist you say an allrounder like O'Keeefe would be of better value to the team? Well no, because handy runs from the lower order is not what we need to win tests. We need a balanced team with 6 bats and a keeper who bats well to make the runs with some contributions from 8 & 9 to top it up - then 4 bowlers to take wickets with a little support from a batting all rounder if available.

Posted by hyclass on (August 28, 2011, 8:59 GMT)

@HatsforBats...When Krezja was first selected to play Test cricket,he was already a well established tasmanian player.His Pura Cup season for Tasmania was 17 wickets at 47 from 7 games when he was first selected.His List A record is just as poor.He had never taken a 5 wicket haul at 1st class level and had poor control,which continues to this day.He was rarely able to break into the NSW side and was fortunate to get a game for Tasmania,the theme being,if a tasmanian wasnt chosen on form,at a time when 3 Tasmanians were involved in selection,come up with a better explanation for his inclusion.I ask the same about Doherty.His first Test was 8 for 215 and 4 for 143-12 for 358 on a raging turner.India made 441 and won the match.He bowled a third of the overs and conceded half the runs.His second test was none for 102 and 1 for 102 against SA,confirming his career record.He has never come close to replicating his 1st test performance again and his record suggests that he never will.

Posted by AidanFX on (August 28, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

I think the spin area is where Aus have messed up the most when it comes to selections. I'd like to think Hauritz can be re-looked at when he recovers from injury (if he is willing to forgive CA). Just prior to his sacking he started to develop subtle variation. And he was also becomming an extremley accurate bowler (which is why Tony Grieggs assessment of Krezja - being "the best bowler in Aus" after watching him in his first over of a One day match @ WACA was just plain silly; a seriously inaccurate bowler; there is no use in putting extra work on the ball if you can't control the spin and pitch of the ball). Unlike Doherty; Hauritz was playing well at both Tests and 5o Over cricket. If Aus are looking @ picking two spinners for any of the tests; then personally I think (not going to happen) it should either be Lyon/ Beer and then Smith. Having an orthodox/ Offbreak and leg spin combination is more threatening against any team.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (August 28, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

My fear is that OKeefe will continue to be ignored, while Beer gets persisted with. They will persist with Beer solely because of the embarrassing revolving- door situation of spinners of the last 4 years. Even if OKeefe and Beer were of equal standard with the ball (which they are not) surely the all-rounder would be of more value to the team.

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 28, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

@Hyclass: Krejza is from NSW, I don't think his playing for Tasmania played much part in his being recalled. He has been the only spinner selected in the test team in the last 4 years that have shown the potential to take a bag of wickets, like he did on debut. And as long as the selectors are picking blokes with 40+ avgs and not picking O'Keefe then I would prefer someone like Lyon who has generated excitement among those who have seen him bowl. But I also agree with picking North, his bowling is just as good and we all know he'll score a century every 6 innings or so.

Posted by hyclass on (August 28, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

@landl47..we are witnessing the last rites of an administration,so twisted in methods and so poor in results,that players careers have been curtailed,ruined or wasted and Australias professional heritage dissapated like smoke in a cyclone,to satsify obtuse theories.These men will be remembered in infamy and your points highlight why it has to be that way.Ultimately,we can all breathe again once the smouldering wreckage has been extinguished.As far as the 1st test squad is concerned,the absence of O'Keefe will weaken both the bowling and batting.I expect the 1st test squad to be:Watson, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, Khawaja, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Copeland, Beer. The impression is,that Copeland will take on the role of the other spinner,by bowling long containing spells from one end. Lyon couldnt be included,either on form,or on 5 day fitness expectations. I understand Paine is in favour-hes tasmanian-but his S/R is poor.I think Wade should have been here.Haddins days are numbered.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 5:05 GMT)

steve okeefe. that is all.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 4:51 GMT)

I believe Aussies should go in with four quicks who can squeeze the runs. Peter George did well in the only Test he played in India. He was economical and got Tendulkar out. Copeland seems to be doing well. The 4 bowlers should be Johnson, Bollinger (though he is out of Test squad), Harris,Copeland in the Tests against SL.

Posted by hyclass on (August 28, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

Firstly to Hauritz.His non selection on this tour is due to him recovering from a shoulder injury that prevents him bowling.His non-selection after the tour of India was another matter.Credible information suggests there was tension between he and Ponting,particluarly over field placings.His tour wasnt the greatest.His form since has been outstanding at Shield level.Ultimately,Ponting requested the tasmanian Doherty to replace him.Cox and Boon,2 ex tasmanian captains agreed.Doherty was as bad at Test level as his record said he would be.The same applied to Krezja,the previous tasmanian spinner.Beer was chosen on Warnes word,not form.Lyon is just as anonymous.The entire failing with Australian cricket has been deferring to favourites and theories over form.The Argus Review was scathing and its strong theme is to pick on results,not potential.On that criterion,O'Keefe is the first spinner picked.Hauritz,when fit,would be second.Id have North as a spinner.His last test start was 6/55.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (August 28, 2011, 4:09 GMT)

Landl47, this is probably the first and only time I will ever agree with you. I don't know what OKeefe has done wrong. He has taken wickets at an average of almost half of any other Aussie spinner, his best figures of 7 for was v Sri Lankan batsmen, he took 4-88 and score a half century in the loss to Eng A last year and he averages almost as much as S.Marsh with the bat. I just doesn't add up.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 3:44 GMT)

australia seriously lacks a world class spinner!they really shud stop picking spinners based on potential!they need to tailor pitches back in australia to suit spinners to bring young spinners ! it is going take a while til then krejza is a good option than beer or lyon! clarke is a better left arm spinner!

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 2:52 GMT)

Of the two on tour Beer is the better option, Lyon isn't ready yet (he'll be damn good in afew years I think, but he's not ready yet). But of every Spinner we have, it should be Hauritz and Krezja over there, between the two of them you have a reliable and experienced offspinner in Hauritz and a hard attacking spinner in Krezja. Same type of bowler yes but they complement each other very well.

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 28, 2011, 0:13 GMT)

@landl47@ we've been trying to work this one out for a while mate. Lyon has been picked on potential as several knowledgeable types have declared they've seen something special in him. I haven't seen him play but like you say, we've already got a spinner taking wickets & scoring runs in FC.

Posted by Doogius on (August 27, 2011, 23:10 GMT)

@Landl. Adelaide & Canberra :)

Posted by landl47 on (August 27, 2011, 20:25 GMT)

This might be a sobering thought for Australian supporters wondering how their side will get on in the spin-friendly sub-continent. Nathan Lyon took 1-71 and 1-51 in this match. That means that 1/7th of his entire career first-class wickets came in this match. If I had told you five years ago, as Warney was moving towards his 700th test wicket, that Australia would be seriously contemplating playing a bowler in a test match with 14 career first-class wickets @45.57 each, you'd have thought I was out of my mind. It's not as though he's a handy bat- 89 first-class runs @9.88. And yet Steve O'Keefe, 26 years old, with 52 first-class wickets @24.05 and 544 runs @36.26, doesn't make the squad. In which parallel universe do Australia's selectors reside?

Posted by   on (August 27, 2011, 18:48 GMT)

I'd like to know what Hauritz has done to upset the selection panel?

Posted by   on (August 27, 2011, 14:33 GMT)

NO NO NO! NO BEER!!!! Lyon will do.

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Daniel BrettigClose
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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