x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Australia opt for spinner Beer as trio dropped

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.

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 were dropped in the wake of Australia's crushing innings and 71-run defeat to England in the second Test. Opener Simon Katich was forced out with injury.

Beer, 26, who is playing his first Sheffield Shield season with Western Australia (WA), got the surprise call-up ahead of former first choice Nathan Hauritz.

Selectors acknowledged they were taking a gamble on Beer, an unheralded spinner who was playing club cricket last season. Even Beer was surprised by the selection. He said: "I don't think it really sank in until I rang my parents and actually blurted it out myself and thought: 'Hang on, what's going on here?'"

Beer, along with Phillip Hughes and all-rounder Steven Smith, were summoned for the Perth Test, which starts on Thursday. But there was no place for spin legend Shane Warne, 41, although some fans and media were calling for him to make a return.

"The reality is, [Beer] has got no international experience and it's a big call from us to throw him into this position," said Andrew Hilditch, chairman of Australia's selectors. "But everything we get back is [he is] someone who is going to handle that pressure, which is critical."

Hilditch denied that Beer's selection was desperate. "We think a left-arm orthodox spinner is the right thing both for the Ashes but also for our future," he said.

"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 for 108 and 2 for 99.