Beer set for debut on spin-friendly Sydney wicket

Australia are confident that the spinner, who was plucked from obscurity to join the squad before the third Test in Perth, will have an impact.

Michael Beer has enjoyed being with the Australia Test team despite not playing the third and fourth Ashes matches.
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SYDNEY // Australia players are confident that Michael Beer, who was plucked from obscurity to join the squad before the third Test in Perth, will have an impact should he make his Ashes debut tomorrow in the fifth Test against England.

The left-arm spinner has watched two Tests without getting a chance to bowl as England retained the urn by taking a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. That is almost certain to change at the spin-friendly Sydney wicket.

He had never set foot inside the famous Sydney Cricket Ground before Australia's pre-match practice session, but teammate Michael Hussey has faith in his ability.

"What we like about him is he's got a very level head, and handles pressure situations very well - which obviously you're going to come up against in Test match cricket all the time," Hussey said.

"He's got very good control, very disciplined and he gets good revs on the ball as well. He uses drift very well, too.

"Having all those attributes together will definitely help him to have success at the highest level."

Even so, Hussey said, it would be unwise to expect too much too soon from a cricketer about to make his Ashes debut.

"It's going to take time to feel comfortable around the team, and around Test match level," Hussey said. "It's important he goes out there, relaxes and tries to enjoy the opportunity.

"I remember my first Test, I was pretty much an emotional wreck, so I just hope we don't put too much pressure on him for his first Test. Let him go out there and show his skills and hope he can do a great job for us, and then get better and better."

Australia hope their local knowledge will be an advantage at the SCG, although Beer said his contribution in that regard will be zero.

"It's the first time I've been inside the SCG," he said after training. "I've trained on the training decks out the back ... but it's the first time I've been out there.

"I really like the ground, and it looks different on TV," he said with a laugh.

"But obviously I'll talk to a lot of the senior guys and hopefully I'll learn a lot about how to bowl."

With seven New South Wales players, including Michael Clarke, the captain, and Brad Haddin, his vice-captain, in the squad, there will be plenty of teammates to tap for local knowledge.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on his debut in Perth and Melbourne, Beer said he has relished being part of the Test squad.

"It's really enjoyable, I'm loving being around the group and looking forward it," said Beer, who had played just five first-class games before his Australia call-up.

"I'm just looking forward to playing, if I get the nod. I'm looking forward to the opportunity. The series is 2-1, we can still tie the series so there's something to play for and obviously it would be a great honour to represent my country.

"Hopefully it will be worth the wait."

At the practice session, Glenn McGrath, Australia's former fast bowling great said he expects the team to bounce back from their Ashes disappointment.

McGrath took 563 Test wickets - the highest tally for any fast bowler - as Australia dominated world cricket for 15 years before he retired after the 2006/07 Ashes whitewash of England.

"It disappointing, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"Growing up as a kid in Australia, the Ashes is always the big one.

"But it amazes me how when Australia were dominant, everyone was saying how bad it was for world cricket. Now they've lost a few games everyone's calling for their heads.

"It goes in cycles occasionally. It wasn't that long ago where the current Australian team won 13 in a row so I've got total faith the boys will bounce back and we'll get back to the top of the tree."

* Reuters