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Page last updated at 06:49 GMT, Sunday, 2 January 2011

Australia pick Usman Khawaja and Michael Beer for Test

Australia v England, fifth Ashes Test
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: 3-7 January (starts 2330 GMT on 2 Jan) Coverage: Live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; TMS highlights online (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4

Usman Khawaja (left) and Michael Clarke
Khawaja (left) and Clarke will hope to level the series for Australia

Australia have handed debuts to batsman Usman Khawaja and spinner Michael Beer for the fifth and final Ashes Test against England in Sydney.

Khawaja, 24, is set to bat at number three and slow left-armer Beer, 26, was chosen ahead of seamer Doug Bollinger.

Michael Clarke is captain in place of the injured Ricky Ponting as Australia aim to level the series despite England having already retained the Ashes.

"We still have so much to get out of this last Test," said Clarke.

"The least we can do is show that Australian fight, which everyone in that dressing room has."

Usman Khawaja eager for Australia debut

The tourists need to win or draw the fifth Test to become the first England team in 24 years to claim a series in Australia.

England outplayed Australia in heavy defeats in Adelaide and Melbourne to lead the series 2-1, while Australia won the third Perth Test and the first Brisbane Test was drawn.

Beer has never played at the Sydney Cricket Ground and comes into the side with only seven first-class games to his name.

He will become Australia's 10th Test spinner since the 2007 retirement of Shane Warne, but Clarke backed him to have a major impact.

Michael Beer
Spinner Beer has never been to the Sydney Cricket Ground

Since Warne, Australia have selected spinners Nathan Hauritz, Stuart MacGill, Brad Hogg, Jason Krejza, Cameron White, Beau Casson, Steven Smith, Bryce McGain and Xavier Doherty.

"We all made our debut (somewhere)," said 29-year-old Clarke, who made 151 on his Test debut against India in 2004.

"I made my debut in Bangalore and I'd never been to Bangalore before, never seen that change room, never played a game on that wicket. It's no different."

Clarke suggested the atmosphere of a 46,000-capacity SCG and the backing of home support should be enough to lift Beer.

The spinner is in his first full season with Western Australia after moving from Victoria, where he played club cricket.

But after being 12th man for Australia in the Perth and Melbourne Tests, Clarke believes Beer has earned the opportunity to play at the highest level.

I have no doubt in my mind Usman will play a lot more than one Test match for Australia. He's earned the right to represent his country

Michael Clarke

"He's lucky enough to make his Test debut at the SCG in front of a full house," Clarke stated. "I think it's exciting.

"He's been around the group for a couple of weeks now and dying for an opportunity. Now, he's got that.

"On this pitch, which I think will certainly spin, definitely late in the game, I see him having a big impact."

Khawaja, who as a child moved from Pakistan to Sydney with his family and has already represented Australia at under-19 level, will be the first Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia.


"His performances over the last couple of years in first-class cricket have shown, at that level, he's been one of the best players if not the best," Clark said of the stylish left-hander. "He's earned the right to represent his country.

"I have no doubt in my mind Usman will play a lot more than one Test match for Australia. It's important when he walks out on the field he's doing nothing different to what he's done the last two years for New South Wales.

"Get out there, play his way, be himself, be confident. I guarantee you, if he gets out there and plays the way he's played for New South Wales, we all know he'll have success over a long career."

Khawaja is averaging 51.70 in first-class cricket, with six centuries and more than 2,000 runs in 27 matches.

Teams for the fifth Test in Sydney:

England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, James Anderson, Ajmal Shahzad, Steven Finn.

Australia XI: Michael Clarke (captain), Philip Hughes, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer.

Umpires: B Bowden (NZ) and A Dar (Pkn)

Third umpire: T Hill (NZ)

Match referee: R Madugalle (SL)

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see also
England on top in rain-hit Sydney
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Jonathan Agnew column
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Justin Langer column
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Swann questions Aussie selection
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Moores exit was key - Pietersen
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Haddin defends Clarke as skipper
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Ponting ruled out of Sydney Test
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England seal win to retain Ashes
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Live cricket on the BBC
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