Melbourne: West Australian left-arm spinner Michael Beer has found an ally at last, and he comes in the form of the MCG curator Cameron Hodgkins.
Called into the Australian squad for the Perth Test, only to be named 12th man, Beer could make his Test debut before a world-record crowd on Boxing Day if selectors heed Hodgkins’s pitch prognosis.
Asked about the bowling composition he favoured for the Australian team, Hodgkins suggested a spinner would be needed to complement Australia’s pacers.
“The only thing I’d say is that the most successful teams [playing on MCG drop-in pitches] have had variety in their attack. Generally, we’re a wicket where you have to bowl at the stumps. Quite often, having some variation helps,” the reporters quoted Beer, as saying.
Hodgkins said the pitch he had chosen for the looming Test “doesn’t have much resemblance” to the tour match pitch, although he conceded it would be nowhere near as lively as last week’s Perth Test strip.
“I would think on the WACA’s worst day it would still be faster and bouncier than anything we normally turn out,” he said yesterday.
He added: “We traditionally are not a very fast, bouncy surface. We’re quite slow on the first day normally, and that probably causes the most difficulty for batsmen who want to get on with it, so patience is normally a fairly key ingredient here. If you don’t have that, you can be four- or five-down early on and game over.”
Leg-spinner Steve Smith is not regarded as the type of bowler capable of economically locking down an end. That could prompt selectors to consider left-arm spinner Beer, whose 3-39 for Western Australia against Victoria at the MCG in the Sheffield Shield is his best statistical performance of the season.
For Beer to be accommodated in the team, the likely casualty would be Peter Siddle or Ben Hilfenhaus.
Siddle dominated on one day one of the series in Brisbane but since then has taken 1-244 from 67 overs. Hilfenhaus, squeezed out for the Adelaide loss, has only two wickets for the series at an average of 105.5 but has conceded just over 2.5 runs per over.