Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth December 13, 2010

Beer confident as he steps into the firing line

29

Michael Beer's integration into the Australia squad for Thursday's third Test at Perth got underway this week in the unusual environs of Brisbane Airport, as the latest spinner to be thrust into the firing line met several of his national team-mates for the first time in the departure lounge of Qantas Airways.

On a day when Australia's greatest spinner, Shane Warne, returned to the headlines for yet more lurid reasons, and when the man who has been discarded by the selectors, Nathan Hauritz, set about selling his kit to the highest bidder, Beer's journey from Australia's East Coast to its most westerly outpost was mundane by comparison.

Nevertheless, for a 26-year-old with six first-class matches to his name, Beer's unconventional introductions emphasised the quantum leap that his career is about to take, as he becomes the tenth Australian spinner since Warne to be trialled in the Test arena.

"I got the flight from Brisbane. Shane Watson and Ryan Harris were on the flight, so it was good to meet them in the Qantas lounge," said Beer. "So I met a couple of them there, and got the ball going. There were a few support staff as well, so it was a good flight in."

Writing in his column in The Australian this week, Ricky Ponting admitted that he had never yet met Beer, the left-arm spinner who looks certain to displace Peter Siddle in Australia's attack at the WACA this week. Beer confirmed this fact as he linked up with the bulk of the squad for his first training session in national colours.

"I met a couple last night when I got in, and the rest this morning, and enjoyed the training session," he said. "There were a couple I'd never met, but they've all been very nice. I'd bowled to them in a net-bowling situation, most of the team, four or five years ago. But Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, I hadn't met. [Ricky] just said 'how are you going?' - and he congratulated me and said 'look forward to the week', so that's what I'm doing."

Regardless of how well received he may be by his Australian team-mates, Beer will nonetheless be undertaking a vast step-up in class this week - and that was a challenge that his predecessor, Xavier Doherty, proved unable to surmount as he returned combined figures of 3 for 306 in his two Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide, before being ditched in the aftermath of England's crushing innings victory in the second Test.

When asked if he believed he was ready for what awaits him, Beer was determined to present a confident front. "I hope so," he said. "I love a challenge. It's just a matter of me knowing my role. I'll see what situation the game's in, and the conditions. I'd say I enjoy a contest. I like a contest, but changing what I've done so far is probably not the best thing to do. I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing, and try to enjoy it."

In many people's opinion, Beer owes his opportunity at Test level to the vote of confidence he was given by Warne, by whom he was namechecked in his newspaper column earlier this week. The two men both honed their skills at the Melbourne club of St Kilda, before Beer was forced to cross the country because of a lack of opportunities at state level with Victoria, but Beer played down the influence exerted by his some-time club level team-mate.

"I played a few games of club cricket with him, and worked with him a couple of times when he's been around," said Beer. "I like the way he went about the game. Whenever he's around, I've tried to sponge as much as I could off him, but I haven't spoken to him [recently]. It's always a bit flattering when someone like him, or of his calibre, throws your name in the ring, but if I do see him, it will be good to say hello."

Although he's determined to give it his best shot when his debut comes about on Thursday, Beer can't quite disguise the astonishment that he's feeling after becoming the single biggest selectorial gamble that Australia has lined up since Peter Taylor was plucked from obscurity for the Sydney Test in January 1987.

When asked if he believed he'd be ready for international cricket after a grand total of six first-class fixtures, Beer offered a flat "No". However, now that he's been set in that direction, he has no option but to trust in his ability to deal with whatever awaits him. "I'm confident in my own ability in a contest," he said. "I hope that comes out shining."

The irony is that, had Beer not shifted his career from Victoria to Western Australia, he might at this moment still be struggling to break into Sheffield Shield cricket. Victoria's incumbent left-arm spinner is Jon Holland, who bowled tidily and with some success against England in an otherwise dreary tour match at the MCG over the weekend.

"The main aim was to get the best out of myself as a cricketer," said Beer of his switch to Perth, where he caught the eye of the selectors with five wickets in England's opening tour match last month. "Victoria were in a situation where they had Holland, who bowled very similar to me. He'd done will in under-age cricket and is also doing well for the Bushrangers now - and they had Bryce McGain, who played Test cricket.

"So I was third in line, unable to break into a contract. Then I got the opportunity with the Warriors, starting with Tom Moody, and then WA kept in contact and offered me a one-year contract. There are a number of things - on the field, the way I bowl and off the field, the professionalism - I've worked on. I'll keep working on it, and hope to keep improving and keep enjoying it."

Beer would not be human if he was not already visualising bowling to Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen at the WACA later this week, but he claims to have no preference when it comes his ideal first opponent. "All of 'em. All of 'em," he said. "I hope they're a couple down before I come on, but I don't think it's fully sunk in yet.

"Today was pretty good, training with the guys," he added. "I was making sure I was concentrating on what I was doing, to make sure I'm ready. I'm really looking forward to it."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 5wombats on December 15, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    @Biggus - goodonyer! For what it's worth - most of us England followers are waiting for the bubble to burst and for the batting to implode at some point. It has in all recent series. The thing is; this set of Eng bowlers has the hex on Aussie batting now and has put the element of doubt into the batsmens minds. Very unusual for Aus to demonstrate such frailties as Hussey showed in the way he got out 2nd time around at Adelaide. Lets see how this much hyped pitch at Perth plays....

  • Biggus on December 15, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    @5wombats-Yep, it looks like we're going down this time barring a comeback the like of which has not been seen since Lazarus stood up and said, "I don't know what came over me. I'm feeling just fine now", and given that, England would have to start favourites in the next series in the northern hemisphere. Like 'ashes61' says, your turn our turn etc. Given current form and other indications you guys may be hard to beat until at least the next Ashes down under but we'll just have to give it our best shot. As the English themselves might say, "There's a good fellow. Stiff upper lip. Tally-ho eh what?".

  • 5wombats on December 14, 2010, 21:52 GMT

    @ashes61 - Nicely put. What goes around comes around....

  • 5wombats on December 14, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    Well - I never thought it would happen; but I find myself agreeing with Biggus and Gilly4ever now! Of course Aus cricket is not in terminal decline. God forbid! - We all look forward so much to The Ashes; lets face it - it punctuates our lives in a 4 year cycle.... So according to Biggus, England should retain the Ashes in 2014 and should look out big time in 2017. I'll vote for that! So what am I to expect next? - agreeing with popcorn, Marcio or even scgboy!!? Mmm.. that'll be the day....!

  • ashes61 on December 14, 2010, 17:23 GMT

    Gilly4ever; Something_Witty and Kuruwita:

    What ARE you talking about? Australian cricket isn't "dead." This isn't the "downfall of Aussie Test cricket." Aus may well (probably will) fail to win back the Ashes which they lost a year or so back. They will probably lose at home, perhaps heavily, to England, thus losing three of the last four Ashes series. And there will be recriminations from press & public, and no doubt many shortcomings will be identified, from the grass roots all the way up to the top. Fine. So where is the death and downfall? Australia lose (probably) and England win. So what? It has been like this ever since the beginning. The mock obit on the "death of English cricket" which started it all 128 years ago should remind you that the "death" was actually the start of something wonderful - the greatest sporting series in the world for over a century. Your turn, our turn. Then yours, then ours. One of your recent turns was a little long. That's all!

  • LALITHKURUWITA on December 14, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    I heard that Ponting has some personnel clash with Hauritz, that is why he is axed. It appears to me that there are divisions in the Aussie team which will lead to downfall of Aussie test cricket. Either Ponting himself must retire or he should be dropped if Aussie need to improve. From the history I can say that if divisions begin the team will fall away.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on December 14, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    @Pakila Bandara, Yes BEER should be allowed in the Aussie dressing romm because they cannot see what is happenning in the ground.

  • Something_Witty on December 14, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    @gilly4ever, you pretty much summed it up. Well said.

  • on December 14, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    England faced him in a tour match at the WACA and he took five wickets and went for plenty of runs against the England batting line up. So we shall see.

  • pinn on December 14, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    They are filling their party with the final beer :-)

  • 5wombats on December 15, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    @Biggus - goodonyer! For what it's worth - most of us England followers are waiting for the bubble to burst and for the batting to implode at some point. It has in all recent series. The thing is; this set of Eng bowlers has the hex on Aussie batting now and has put the element of doubt into the batsmens minds. Very unusual for Aus to demonstrate such frailties as Hussey showed in the way he got out 2nd time around at Adelaide. Lets see how this much hyped pitch at Perth plays....

  • Biggus on December 15, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    @5wombats-Yep, it looks like we're going down this time barring a comeback the like of which has not been seen since Lazarus stood up and said, "I don't know what came over me. I'm feeling just fine now", and given that, England would have to start favourites in the next series in the northern hemisphere. Like 'ashes61' says, your turn our turn etc. Given current form and other indications you guys may be hard to beat until at least the next Ashes down under but we'll just have to give it our best shot. As the English themselves might say, "There's a good fellow. Stiff upper lip. Tally-ho eh what?".

  • 5wombats on December 14, 2010, 21:52 GMT

    @ashes61 - Nicely put. What goes around comes around....

  • 5wombats on December 14, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    Well - I never thought it would happen; but I find myself agreeing with Biggus and Gilly4ever now! Of course Aus cricket is not in terminal decline. God forbid! - We all look forward so much to The Ashes; lets face it - it punctuates our lives in a 4 year cycle.... So according to Biggus, England should retain the Ashes in 2014 and should look out big time in 2017. I'll vote for that! So what am I to expect next? - agreeing with popcorn, Marcio or even scgboy!!? Mmm.. that'll be the day....!

  • ashes61 on December 14, 2010, 17:23 GMT

    Gilly4ever; Something_Witty and Kuruwita:

    What ARE you talking about? Australian cricket isn't "dead." This isn't the "downfall of Aussie Test cricket." Aus may well (probably will) fail to win back the Ashes which they lost a year or so back. They will probably lose at home, perhaps heavily, to England, thus losing three of the last four Ashes series. And there will be recriminations from press & public, and no doubt many shortcomings will be identified, from the grass roots all the way up to the top. Fine. So where is the death and downfall? Australia lose (probably) and England win. So what? It has been like this ever since the beginning. The mock obit on the "death of English cricket" which started it all 128 years ago should remind you that the "death" was actually the start of something wonderful - the greatest sporting series in the world for over a century. Your turn, our turn. Then yours, then ours. One of your recent turns was a little long. That's all!

  • LALITHKURUWITA on December 14, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    I heard that Ponting has some personnel clash with Hauritz, that is why he is axed. It appears to me that there are divisions in the Aussie team which will lead to downfall of Aussie test cricket. Either Ponting himself must retire or he should be dropped if Aussie need to improve. From the history I can say that if divisions begin the team will fall away.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on December 14, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    @Pakila Bandara, Yes BEER should be allowed in the Aussie dressing romm because they cannot see what is happenning in the ground.

  • Something_Witty on December 14, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    @gilly4ever, you pretty much summed it up. Well said.

  • on December 14, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    England faced him in a tour match at the WACA and he took five wickets and went for plenty of runs against the England batting line up. So we shall see.

  • pinn on December 14, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    They are filling their party with the final beer :-)

  • FNLN on December 14, 2010, 3:46 GMT

    Come On guys. What is wrong if Beer plays test match?? Give him some support. I am sure this rookie can do some damage to English batting.

  • on December 14, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    Well this might be the physicological game the Aussies are throwing at the Poms ,by bringing in a player like Beer, they don't have much video coverage on the spinner ,he could be a match winner we would have to wait and see .

  • landl47 on December 14, 2010, 2:02 GMT

    Assuming the curator has prepared a test wicket in Perth and not a spinners paradise, the first thing Beer is going to have to deal with is that he won't get much turn for the first three days. Unless he can bowl tight (as Swann did in the first innings at Adelaide) he's going to get clobbered. That's what happened to Doherty and by the later stages of England's innings in the second test he'd lost all rhythm and flight and was just trying to keep the runs down. Test cricket is a different game from state cricket and unless a bowler is right on his game he doesn't have much chance. For a spin bowler it's even more important, because if he doesn't bowl well the batsmen have time to go back or forward and thrash the bowling. That's why many spinners don't reach their full potential until later- Swann was 29 before getting a test place and had played hundreds of fisrt-class games. Good luck to Beer with his 6.

  • Ozcricketwriter on December 14, 2010, 0:05 GMT

    Here's the Ashes, England. They now represent that Australian cricket is dead, and that we have given up on any hope.

  • ashes61 on December 13, 2010, 23:14 GMT

    Although all the jokes and puns about Beer's name are quite funny (some of them!) it's quite surprising there are still so many, as it is not at all an unusual surname. There must be plenty of people of English descent called Beer in Australia, as it is a fairly common surname over here in SE England, especially in Kent and Sussex. I have played with plenty of Beers in my time (yes, and drunk a few post-match ones too!) and the most recent one I remember was a left-arm bowler, although not a spinner.

    Yes, an amazing decision, but good luck to him if he plays - he seems to think he will. One thing is for certain; given his lack of experience, the complete absence of expectations, the state of the series so far and his unsuccessful predecessors, he certainly is under no pressure at all, so can relax - vital, I should think, for a tweaker. If he succeeds, no-one will ever laugh at a Warne tweet again! (But if he comes on with England in complete contol, God help him!)

  • 5wombats on December 13, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    Someone is having a joke, right? "Writing in his column in The Australian this week, Ricky Ponting admitted that he had never yet met Beer". This is amazing.... "the left-arm spinner who looks certain to displace Peter Siddle in Australia's attack at the WACA this week". For once I actually agree with Something_Witty. Just incredible. Surely he can't play. What the hell did Hauritz say to the selectors/Ponting!!! This is an absolute gift for England. God knows what the rest of the Aus "team" will make of this selection. I'd like to say I feel sorry for him, but I don't - this is war, and if he plays Beer will find that it doesn't go to his head.

  • on December 13, 2010, 21:50 GMT

    The advantage that beer has is that the batsmen will be nervous. No test player wants to get out to a club cricketer!

  • Chapelau on December 13, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    ok, it's Christmas, can't resist it any longer; it seems the press have been caught on the "hop" with their choice of "beer"... even "lager" than life Merv hughes seemed a little "bitter" and thinks the Oz selection is "ale"ing and they need to "can" the switching between spinners - who will only "bottle" it in the 3rd test.

  • Biggus on December 13, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    The selection of Beer has much in common with that of Peter Taylor in 86/87, ironically the last time we were beaten by England down under. Though I'm a little surprised they didn't pick O'Keefe given his meritorious performance in the Australia A game one has to assume that someone has seen something in Beer. Given the form shown in the current Ashes series we're probably going to be unable to get the Ashes back this time but those predicting a terminal decline for Australian cricket are kidding themselves. We'll be back but it may take 5 years to unearth and blood the necessary players and there will doubtless be some fiddling with the side in the meantime that might look odd. What part Beer plays in this is up to him. Odd selection yes! But good luck to the fellow.

  • on December 13, 2010, 21:13 GMT

    Beer's bowling average is 40 in first class cricket and he's taken no more than 20 wickets with a best of 3 for. Not awe inspiring. Even with those figures I think the likes of bangladesh, Kenya would struggle to select him. I personally think they have selected him because of his name which seems to be the norm with them. They like their funnily named playes like Beau Casson, Kreja to cite a few.

  • marcovanpenners on December 13, 2010, 21:04 GMT

    England supporters shouldn't scoff, remember Darren Pattinson?

  • on December 13, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    I think going in with 2 spinners is a safe bet for Australia. The bounce at the WACA is going to be helpful for spinners and charging down the track is not going to happen easily. I am sure Ponting has thought about other factors before selecting his spinners. I wish Beer the best of luck. He could just spring a surprise.

  • on December 13, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    Poor Hauritz, there was a time when nobody could break into the Aussie team....now all you need to do is get a few games at State level and then you're almost certain of a test debut.

  • on December 13, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    Wait, hang on, what?!? We are actually thinking of giving this guy a game?! I thought having him in the squad was just a token gesture, and that we were going to go in with 4 quicks + smith! There are about 10 spinners more worthy to play than this guy. Where the hell is Hauritz?! If he plays, we may aswell give up on cricket...the selectors have lost it!

  • anilkp on December 13, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    AUS have no good pool of spinners (just as India who maybe a bit better: did Indian spinners really pulverize NZ batsmen recently on home turfs?), and that is reflected in the selectors' decision. What is wrong with that that the media, analysts and fans are screeming wild? We think someone else might have been better, but we are not selectors. The selectors have to pick someone--this is desperate time--and that someone has to try. Cricket fans should just wait and watch, not whine. At least do not put unnecessary burden on this guy who is stepping into a big moment in his life. He knows that in past first-time-failures were still not bad, and the times have changed. He needs encouragement: from all who care about or think of cricket, does not matter which country/team we support. Welcome Beer, you have substance in you that's why you were picked. Never mind a failure; life is longer and more precious than a Test match.

  • on December 13, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    Beer is allowed in the Cricket Dressing room while the match is on. Who thought about that?

  • bonner on December 13, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    A lot depends on how well the quicks perform. If Beer can come on with attacking fields and new batters at the crease then he has every chance to claim a few scalps. Whatever the conditions of his selection, when he pulls on the baggy green and steps onto the field I will be 100% behind him. I wish him the best of luck.

  • FNLN on December 13, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Sometimes rookies play better than regular players. He may not have statistics and other spinners didn't bowl well. I guess no harm in trying Michael Beer. Seems like he is a talented spinner. Gook luck Beer.

  • Something_Witty on December 13, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    Please no. Beer cannot play in Perth. I saw Andrew Hilditch announcing the squad and it seemed as if he was 100% certain to play. All I can say is that if he does play, it will be the most bogus selection I have ever seen in my life. With the selection of Doherty just slightly behind it. Ugh......

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Something_Witty on December 13, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    Please no. Beer cannot play in Perth. I saw Andrew Hilditch announcing the squad and it seemed as if he was 100% certain to play. All I can say is that if he does play, it will be the most bogus selection I have ever seen in my life. With the selection of Doherty just slightly behind it. Ugh......

  • FNLN on December 13, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Sometimes rookies play better than regular players. He may not have statistics and other spinners didn't bowl well. I guess no harm in trying Michael Beer. Seems like he is a talented spinner. Gook luck Beer.

  • bonner on December 13, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    A lot depends on how well the quicks perform. If Beer can come on with attacking fields and new batters at the crease then he has every chance to claim a few scalps. Whatever the conditions of his selection, when he pulls on the baggy green and steps onto the field I will be 100% behind him. I wish him the best of luck.

  • on December 13, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    Beer is allowed in the Cricket Dressing room while the match is on. Who thought about that?

  • anilkp on December 13, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    AUS have no good pool of spinners (just as India who maybe a bit better: did Indian spinners really pulverize NZ batsmen recently on home turfs?), and that is reflected in the selectors' decision. What is wrong with that that the media, analysts and fans are screeming wild? We think someone else might have been better, but we are not selectors. The selectors have to pick someone--this is desperate time--and that someone has to try. Cricket fans should just wait and watch, not whine. At least do not put unnecessary burden on this guy who is stepping into a big moment in his life. He knows that in past first-time-failures were still not bad, and the times have changed. He needs encouragement: from all who care about or think of cricket, does not matter which country/team we support. Welcome Beer, you have substance in you that's why you were picked. Never mind a failure; life is longer and more precious than a Test match.

  • on December 13, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    Wait, hang on, what?!? We are actually thinking of giving this guy a game?! I thought having him in the squad was just a token gesture, and that we were going to go in with 4 quicks + smith! There are about 10 spinners more worthy to play than this guy. Where the hell is Hauritz?! If he plays, we may aswell give up on cricket...the selectors have lost it!

  • on December 13, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    Poor Hauritz, there was a time when nobody could break into the Aussie team....now all you need to do is get a few games at State level and then you're almost certain of a test debut.

  • on December 13, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    I think going in with 2 spinners is a safe bet for Australia. The bounce at the WACA is going to be helpful for spinners and charging down the track is not going to happen easily. I am sure Ponting has thought about other factors before selecting his spinners. I wish Beer the best of luck. He could just spring a surprise.

  • marcovanpenners on December 13, 2010, 21:04 GMT

    England supporters shouldn't scoff, remember Darren Pattinson?

  • on December 13, 2010, 21:13 GMT

    Beer's bowling average is 40 in first class cricket and he's taken no more than 20 wickets with a best of 3 for. Not awe inspiring. Even with those figures I think the likes of bangladesh, Kenya would struggle to select him. I personally think they have selected him because of his name which seems to be the norm with them. They like their funnily named playes like Beau Casson, Kreja to cite a few.