Beer selection an 'advantage' for Ashes Test

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The Independent Online

Former Australia spinner Peter Taylor has urged Michael Beer to use his mystery status to his advantage in the third Ashes Test.

Taylor was greeted with headlines of 'Peter Who' after he was plucked from the New South Wales side after just four first-class games and thrown into the national team for the final Test of the 1986/87 Ashes series.

He responded with a man-of-the-match performance, claming eight wickets and scoring 42 to help Australia to a face-saving win after Mike Gatting had led the tourists to an Ashes series victory, the last time England triumphed on Australian soil.

Taylor finds himself back in the news thanks to Beer's selection for the third Test in Perth after just five state games for Western Australia - a call-up which has been described as the biggest gamble since Taylor's elevation nearly a quarter of a century ago.

"When I was picked I remember trying to understand why they had picked me," said Taylor, who played 13 Tests for Australia.

"But he (Beer) has got to try and block out all that extraneous stuff and journalists asking him to justify why he's been picked.

"Given it's an unusual situation he finds himself in, he's just got to make the most of it.

"For a bloke like him it's a great opportunity.

"He can't be intimidated. He's just got to get on there and do his job.

"He's obviously an accomplished player or they wouldn't have picked him."

Taylor, who has never seen Beer play, doesn't see his selection as a massive gamble as long as the rookie doesn't freeze under pressure.

He feels the left-arm finger spinner could threaten England's in-form batting line-up simply because they know little about him.

"I identify a little bit with his situation," Taylor said.

"When I look back on my experience, I think he's got to look at it as a great opportunity.

"I had six years of playing for Australia - very few blokes get that chance.

"When you're a spinner in Australia, there's only six to eight bowlers around to pick from and they're looking for a certain type of bowler and he obviously fits the bill.

"The opposition won't know him and that's a great advantage.

"And he will know the pitch and he'll enjoy great support because everyone will want him to do well."

Now running a farm in the north-west NSW town of Moree, Taylor has no official involvement in cricket but remains a keen fan.

And he admits he is finding it tough watching Australia lurch from one disaster to the next this summer.

"I am very disappointed when I see Australia struggle," he said.

"It means a lot to me and every ex-player to see them playing well.

"I find it really disappointing when I see great players not playing to their potential and we've got a little bit of that at the moment.

"Playing for Australia is a great privilege - it's not a right - and it hurts to lose and it should hurt.

"I'm sure they are feeling that and hopefully they bounce back in the next few Tests."

Beer himself admitted today he is not sure if his first call-up has come to soon.

"It's a hard one that," he said. "Hopefully (I am ready).

"I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm confident of my own ability in a contest, so hopefully that comes out shining.

"I love a challenge. I'm just running off that at the moment. It's just a matter of me knowing my role and trying to execute it as best I can."

Beer's limited first-class record makes uninspiring reading, with just 16 wickets in 10 innings at an average a shade over 40.

But he can at least call upon the experience of that warm-up game - in which he dismissed Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Matt Prior in England's first innings and Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in the second.

He said: "I think it will definitely help being in the same surroundings.

"I'll take a fair bit out of that contest with them. I enjoyed that and learnt from it."