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Se­lec­tors deny signs of des­per­a­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

AUS­TRALIA dropped three play­ers yes­ter­day 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 man­agers.”

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-of­form 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 tor n Achilles ten­don.

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

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

LEFT FIELD: Michael Beer’s se­lec­tion for the cru­cial third Ashes Test has stunned cricket pun­dits and fans in Aus­tralia.

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