Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney January 1, 2011

First-timer Beer prepares for SCG debut


Michael Beer walked into the SCG for the first time today and while he liked what he saw, he thought "it looked different on TV". Everything is new to Beer, the left-arm spinner, who only played his maiden first-class game for Western Australia at the start of the summer.

On Monday he is expected to be handed a baggy green three weeks after he was the latest slow bowler to be parachuted into Australia's Test squad. Beer, 26, was hoping for a debut at the WACA, his adopted home ground after an off-season move from Victoria, but was overlooked when Ricky Ponting decided on four fast men. The same thing happened at the MCG, but this week looks like his time.

It has been a hard wait. When Ponting walked towards him shortly before the toss in Perth, Beer thought he was about to get a new cap. His family had flown in for the occasion and he was ready, but Ponting delivered bad news and he headed to Tasmania for a Sheffield Shield game instead. "At the time I was a little disappointed but I've really enjoyed being a part of the group," he said.

Beer has played only seven first-class games so not much is known about him. Michael Hussey has faced him in the nets and likes his approach and level-headedness. "He's got very good control, very disciplined," he said. "He gets good revs on the ball as well, and uses drift very well."

However, Hussey warned about expecting too much from Beer too soon. "It's going to take time to feel comfortable around the team and comfortable around Test match level," he said. "It's important that he relaxes, goes out there and tries to enjoy the opportunity. I remember in my first Test I was pretty much an emotional wreck, so I hope we don't put too much pressure on him."

If Beer plays, he will work alongside Steven Smith, who bowls legspin and bats No.6, but the surprise is that Nathan Hauritz hasn't been included at his home ground. While Beer will have to ask the New South Wales players in the squad for advice on the conditions, Hauritz could have just turned up and bowled.

Hauritz has worked hard since being dropped before the series, taking 19 Shield wickets at 26.78 for the season, and scoring two centuries. His absence is puzzling to Australian supporters and the England team.

"I honestly don't understand how the Australian selection works," England's offspinner Graeme Swann said. Swann said he felt a kinship with his fellow offspinner, and remembered that Hauritz had caused them some problems in three Tests in 2009.

"I generally feel sorry for him," he said. "I don't think he deserved to miss out on this whole series. I don't understand why he has not been given a shout, but that is good for us." In this Test, England will be going for Beer instead.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on January 2, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    The only thing that might happen is that KP could get silly facing the bowling of Beer - play a silly shot (of the kind he is notorious for against spinners....) and get himself out. We've seen it all before - KP just doesn't take spin bowlers seriously unless their surname in Warne. Beer did get KP in the 2nd dig in the WA game at Perth - but that pitch was specifically prepared to be very different from the pitch subsequently used for the Test.... and took spin. Beer took 5 of the 12 England wickets to fall. Swann took 5 of 18 WA wickets. One third of all wickets that fell in the WA game were taken by spinners - and yet the test match "pitch" (for pitch read "trampoline") gave only 2 of the 40 wickets to fall to spinners. Am I the only one who finds this odd? Now - Aus can't play that trick again since Eng have not played at the SCG yet, so what will happen? I think Beer could be quite effective - but if he is then Swann CERTAINLY will be. Have to feel sorry for Hauritz though.

  • Paul on January 2, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    Australias BEST spinner. 1 test to make yer claim budyy LOL

  • Daniel on January 2, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    @Andre Soodkar "The problem has to be the selectors. Let form and talent be your guidelines for selection, not wishes and hope." Best 2 sentences I have read on this subject.

  • Anupam on January 2, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    beer will be proven the next great striking spinner for aussie. beer will be in the team in all format of the game. beer will must play in WC'11. go beer go. prove & shut up those people who underestimated you. best of luck.

  • Adrian on January 2, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    We'd have been better off with Shane Warne than Michael Beer. Still, we need a spinner in Sydney.

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    Absolutely concur @ Shaynej and I would add that Hughes is in the same category as Smith - too much radical T20 stuff and not enough conventional cricket batting. I am warming to Shaun Marsh who has a reasonable technique and I hear good things from Mark Waugh about Nic Maddinson who is very young but England brought Ali Cook in at a young age and look at him now. If we are to prevail again at Test level, we need the technical prowess to build scores that our bowlers can work with. Anyway, still an avid Aussie fan and hoping for a great debut from Beer.

  • Faisal Mashood on January 1, 2011, 21:22 GMT

    this guy is going to get thrashed\... my goodness is this guy going to get thrashed

  • Matthew on January 1, 2011, 21:22 GMT

    Hauritz is surely their best spinning option. Certainly better than Xavier Doherty or Steve Smith anyway. Beer should be given a chance, but Hauritz seems to have been a bit harshly treated. Maybe his face doesn't fit...? If Khawaja fails in this game, he's got to be a candidate for number three with those two centuries behind him :)

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    Here in the WI when our downslide started, the spinners were the first to be blamed and changed, despite our batting woes. The rushed debuts, older players being kept far longer than they should have been, the infighting all seems too familiar to me. The major advantage Aus has is your youth team and a much better organized first class system. The problem has to be the selectors. Let form and talent be your guidelines for selection, not wishes and hope.

  • Shayne on January 1, 2011, 17:46 GMT

    The Aussies failed because of a miserable pair of openers - compare their 100/50 rate to the Pom openers in this series - and failure to build decent opening partnerships exposes a woefully out-of-form # 3 and 4 to a bunch of pretty decent new-ball operators even before there's 50 on the board. That leaves Hussey with too much to do, and Smith has no business coming in before Haddin. Smith is a long way from being a Test class batsman and that's obvious to everyone who watches him - no one's taught him how to build a test innings or bat time. Forget his bowling, that's even more comical - to hand him the ball in a test match before Hauritz shows that Ponting isn't thinking straight. Forget all this claptrap about being on the wrong side of 30, bring in some seasoned campaigners who know how to score big runs and build innings that last longer than a single session - David Hussey comes to mind. At least, move Haddin higher and use a decent spinner - X, Smith, or Beer don't count.

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