Melbourne: Australia have sprung a surprise by picking untried spinner Michael Beer in a revamped 12-man squad for the third Ashes Test starting in Perth next week.
Beer, who has taken just 16 first class wickets at an average nudging 40 since making his debut two months ago, replaces fellow left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, dropped after being flayed by England’s bats in the second Test in Adelaide.
“Michael is a left-arm orthodox spinner who has been very impressive at domestic level this year,” selectors chairman Andrew Hilditch said in a statement on Friday.
“He took wickets against England in the tour match earlier this summer and we expect he will bowl very well against the English on his home ground.”
Beer will join retained pacemen Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris in the attack, but Doug Bollinger has been dropped after struggling for fitness in the heat in Adelaide.
Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, both of whom were dropped following poor performances in the first Test in Brisbane, will vye for the last vacant bowling spot.
“Both Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus did not play in Adelaide but will be strongly considered for selection in the Perth Test match where conditions will suit them.” said Hilditch.
All-rounder Steven Smith also replaces out-of-form number six Marcus North, who was widely expected to be dropped after failing again at Adelaide.
Phillip Hughes has replaced injured opening batsman Simon Katich and will face a big pyschological test at Perth after he was bullied out of the side by England’s quicks during Australia’s losing Ashes series last year.
Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke (vc), Michael Beer, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phillip Hughes, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson