Ashes

Australia pin hopes on Beer

2010-12-10 11:08
Michael Beer (File)

Sydney - Australia dropped three players on Friday and gambled on left-arm spinner Michael Beer after just five first-class games for next week's crucial third Ashes Test against England in Perth.

Marcus North, Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger paid the price for Australia's crushing innings and 71-run defeat to England in this week's second Adelaide Test, while opener Simon Katich was forced out with injury.

Beer, 26, who is playing his first Sheffield Shield season with Western Australia, gets a surprise call-up in Australia's hour of need ahead of former first choice Nathan Hauritz.

Selectors admitted they were taking a huge gamble on unheralded spinner Beer, who was last season playing club cricket, for the make-or-break Test against England.

Beer -- along with Phillip Hughes and all-rounder Steve Smith -- were summoned for the Perth Test starting on Thursday.

But there was no place for spin legend Shane Warne, with some fans and media calling for the 41-year-old to make a sensational -- albeit unlikely -- return.

"The reality is, he's got no international experience and it's a big call from us to throw him into this position," Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said of Beer's call-up.

"But everything we get back is (he is) someone who is going to handle that pressure, which is critical."

Hilditch denied Beer's selection, the biggest stunner since Peter Taylor was given a baggy green cap against England in 1986/97, was desperate.

"We think a left-arm orthodox spinner is the right thing both for the Ashes but also for our future," said Hilditch, adding Beer would play in the third Test.

"Michael Beer has, I suppose, come from nowhere.

"But he has had a good start to the domestic season, someone we were very interested in even before the season started with some really good feedback from our talent management system and people in WA."

Beer played against England in their tour opener last month, taking 3-108 and 2-99.

His first-class average is a modest 16 wickets at an average of 39.93, with all his games coming since crossing to Western Australia from Melbourne.

Smith replaces the out-of-form North at number six in the batting order, while Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, discarded for the second Test, come back into Test reckoning ahead of Bollinger.

Bollinger struggled after taking the early wicket of Andrew Strauss in the England first innings to finish the Adelaide Test with figures of 1-130.

Hughes will replace Katich, who will miss the rest of the Ashes series with a torn Achilles tendon.

Hilditch said Smith will replace North after scores of 1, 26 and 22 in the first two Tests.

"This is obviously disappointing for Marcus, who has played some outstanding Test innings for Australia but it was felt to be the right time to bring the exciting prospect Steve Smith into the Test team," he said.

"Steve has already had success at international level and will also add to the bowling depth with his leg spin bowling and dynamic fielding."

"The squad is a very exciting one with a blend of talented young players and experienced international cricketers," he said.

"We are confident it will play an aggressive brand of cricket as we try to change the momentum of the Test series in this critical Ashes Test match."

England, as the Ashes holders, can retain the trophy if they win in Perth.

Australia:

Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Michael Beer, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phillip Hughes, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson

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