If Shane Warne had never been born not only would Liz Hurley be tucked up beside her Gloucestershire fireplace more often but Stuart MacGill would have a lot more Test caps to his name. The former Australian leggie spent a career as Warne's understudy and so knows a thing or two about the watching the art of spin and yesterday he slammed the decision of his country's selectors to call up Michael Beer.
"I am gobsmacked, shocked, I honestly cannot believe it," MacGill said of the decision to select the slow left-armer, who has played just five first-class games, for the third Ashes Test at Perth this week.
"The team will have to change again after the next Test. Good on Michael Beer, good bloke and good player, but look at this as a job interview and show me his qualifications to get this job. He doesn't have any. He is not qualified for the job they have given him. Sending him out there, what are they trying to do?"
MacGill, who played 44 Tests before his retirement in 2008, reserved particular criticism for comments made by Andrew Hilditch, the selection panel chairman. "To be honest, from Andrew Hilditch's comments, he doesn't even really know who Michael Beer is. He said he'll bowl well in Perth because it's his home ground. I'm not sure Andrew thought those comments through before he made them.
"Look, Andrew Hilditch is a lovely bloke but someone needs to tell him Michael Beer has not spent his career playing at the Waca. Three games there and nothing better than a three-for. Honestly, there is no big picture here."
MacGill's criticism comes after left-arm spinner, Xavier Doherty, who was dropped after the first two Tests, said the selectors were panicking when it came to picking slow bowlers. MacGill also expressed his dismay at the discarding of Nathan Hauritz, who has taken 63 wickets in 17 Tests, hit a maiden first-class hundred as a nightwatchman against South Australia on Wednesday and picked up a five-wicket haul in his last domestic game in Perth.
"Xavier Doherty was [an odd inclusion] too, to be honest. They are clearly telling Nathan Hauritz, 'you are never playing Test cricket again'. I don't understand that. Xavier Doherty should never have played the first two Tests. Michael Beer shouldn't be playing this one."
Another former Ashes player, Darren Gough, is as bemused as MacGill by the thinking of the Australia selectors. "The reason they are struggling is because they can't take 20 wickets," the former England bowler said. "They left out their best strike bowler in Mitchell Johnson which was a total surprise. He's the one guy who can bowl a team out and Ricky Ponting knows that. They'll have to bring Johnson back to partner Ryan Harris so they have two strike bowlers. But I can't see how they are going to win a game."