Time for the puns to stop....and Beer to flow!

Michael Anthony Beer. In any country, that’s a strong name; in Australia, it is a perfect name. Just as well; for a country, known for its fondness of the said beverage, Beer is expected to lift Aussie spirits, in more ways than one.

There could not be a worse initiation possible. Consider the situation: You slog it out in club cricket for many years, move to a state whose team is searching for a front-line spinner, play all of six first class games, take 16 wickets which includes a best of 3/39 and an average of 40.06, get talked up by a spin legend in the press, and just like that: get called up to the national side for one of the most crucial Test matches in a while.

Beer walks into a side in total disarray, and which has no idea of what its best combination is. He replaces a fellow left arm spinner, who like him, was a surprise pick for the first two matches, and who after two ordinary games, was discarded instantly. He walks into a ground, which he considers home for only his last season, and is known to be a graveyard for spinners (honorable exception: Monty), with even the great Warne never having got any five wickets hauls there. He enters a situation, where Australia is so close to losing the Ashes at home, for the first time in two decades; and there is immense pressure from the public and hopeful expectations from the selectors. Most crucially, he faces off against a team, which is playing its best cricket since anyone can care to remember, and has all its batsmen in prime form. Forget taking wickets; Beer will be lucky if he can escape the ‘McGain’ treatment.

Then again, hope floats. Eternal optimists would like us to look at the example of one Peter Taylor, who got a similar surprise call up in the 1986-87 Ashes test at Sydney, and went on to play a match-winning performance. Whereas one can argue, that this England team is in no way similar to that of the 1986-87 side, this is the Ashes we are talking about. Strange things have been known to happen during these contests; lesser mortals have been inspired to greater deeds during times like these. If he can turn in an Ashes defining performance, and win the game for his country, Australia will one have more reason to cherish ‘beer’.

From a practical point of view, I don’t see Beer as an improvement on Doherty. He will be lucky if he can get more than 3 or 4 wickets in the game. What Australia will really expect him to do is, hold one end up and not to leak any runs. If Beer can do that, in a pressure situation, in the heat of an Ashes battle, he can make it easier for his more established colleagues to try and win the game.

Of course, in the end, if he does not figure in this game, I would have wasted five minutes of your time.
Anyway, enough has been written; this match has been previewed to death in both the English and Aussie press. Now, it’s time for the puns to stop, and the action to begin. Let’s drink to that.
tracerbullet007 blogs at Like a Tracer Bullet. For his latest post on the India-SA series, click here.