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Ashes: Australia include Michael Beer for Perth Test

Third Ashes Test: Australia v England
Venue: Perth Dates: 16-20 December Start time: 0230 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 LW, 5 live sports extra and online; live highlights (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; live on Sky Sports 1

Michael Beer
Beer: 16 first-class wickets at an average of 39.93 for Western Australia

Left-arm spinner Michael Beer was a surprise selection as Australia dropped Marcus North, Doug Bollinger and Xavier Doherty for the third Ashes Test.

Beer, who has made only five first-class appearances, is joined by leg-spinner Steve Smith in a squad of 12.

Pacemen Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson, who played at Brisbane but were dropped for the defeat by England in Adelaide, are back in the reckoning.

And left-handed opener Phillip Hughes comes in for the injured Simon Katich.

Smith, viewed as a genuine all-rounder in some quarters, seems certain to start the Perth Test, which begins on 16 December, since no batsman has been picked to replace North, Australia's misfiring number six from Brisbane and Adelaide.

Beer will also play, unless Australia - desperate to win at Perth to get back on to level terms in the Ashes - pick four specialist seamers.

He came into first-class cricket in his mid-20s and has only 16 first-class wickets at an average of 39.93, five of which came in England's tour match against Western Australia.

He had won the backing of Australia's greatest ever spinner Shane Warne, but it is not clear whether the selectors were swayed by his opinions.

Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, said. "Michael is a left-arm orthodox spinner who has been very impressive at domestic level this year. 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, 26, plied his trade in Melbourne club cricket until the end of last season, when he moved to Western Australia in an attempt to launch his domestic career.

He said: "I'm very much stoked and surprised. I don't think it really sank in until I rang my parents and blurted it out myself and thought, hang on, what's going on here?"

WA coach Mickey Arthur said: "I'd certainly like to see the selectors pick one spinner now and stick with him.

Oliver Brett's blog

"I think he'll probably get an extended run now. He's got a way to go, he's young in the game, but in a year's time he'll be sensational. He'll be able to handle anything that international cricket throws at him."

One man who will definitely play at the Waca is Hughes, who made four and zero in his most recent first-class match but was always favourite to replace Katich. The veteran left-hander will miss the rest of the series with an Achilles tendon injury.

Smith has played two Tests, against Pakistan in England in July, when he was chosen as a leg-spinner in the absence of the injured Nathan Hauritz.

Hilditch said of his decision to drop North, following scores of 1, 26 and 22 in the first two Tests: "This is obviously disappointing for Marcus who has played some outstanding Test innings for Australia.

"But it was felt to be the right time to bring the exciting prospect Steve Smith into the Test team. Steve has already had success at international level and will also add to the bowling depth with his leg-spin bowling and dynamic fielding."

Hilditch added: "Johnson and Hilfenhaus will be strongly considered for selection in Perth, where conditions will suit them."

Nathan Hauritz
Nathan Hauritz has been left out in the cold by Australia's selectors

Former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson was critical of the selectors' thinking, labelling Beer as "just a fledgling".

Lawson told BBC Radio 5 live: "There are a lot of respectable spinners around in Australian cricket. Last week Hauritz played in Perth, took five wickets and bowled really well.

"Two leg-spinners, Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain, don't seem to be in favour. There are a number of other decent bowlers but the national selectors don't want to persevere with them."

Looking at the return of Johnson and Hilfenhaus just one match after being dropped, Lawson added: "In his last six or seven Tests Johnson has been poor, but he wasn't even allowed to play for Queensland against Western Australia in the match starting on Saturday.

"It is bizarre thinking from the coaching staff and selectors to put him back in the team when he has been bowling poorly for some time and has only had net work, whereas someone like Doug Bollinger has been Australia's best bowler for the past 12 months.

"He had a poor game in Adelaide but so did quite a few others and they have discarded him on the evidence of one Test match. So it is quite confusing. There is a lack of consistency, a lack of clear process and you can only believe that come next Thursday in Perth there will still be a lot of confusion."

Australia squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Shane Watson, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Michael Beer, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus.

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see also
Warne talk boosts England - Swann
09 Dec 10 |  Australia
Pietersen hit with speeding fine
09 Dec 10 |  England
Ponting backing Hughes for Perth
08 Dec 10 |  Australia
Strauss confident of series win
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England complete Adelaide triumph
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Katich set to miss rest of series
07 Dec 10 |  Australia
Ponting urges Aussie improvement
07 Dec 10 |  Australia
Injured Broad ruled out of Ashes
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Second Ashes Test in photos
07 Dec 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket

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