Beer and Khawaja to face England
Michael Beer and Usman Khawaja will make their Test debuts for Australia in the final Ashes match against England in Sydney.
Stand-in captain Michael Clarke confirmed this morning that the slow left-armer and number three batsman will take their places in the line-up, with Doug Bollinger the man to miss out.
Clarke said: “The XI has been picked and Dougie misses out. Ussie and Beery will get their first taste of Test cricket.”
Australia need to win the Test to level the series at 2-2, although England have already retained the Ashes after their innings-and-157-run victory in Melbourne earlier this week.
The selection of Beer and Khawaja did little to surprise England skipper Andrew Strauss.
“You usually need a spinner in Sydney, so we expected Beer to come in - and Khawaja is obviously inked in to play instead of Ponting anyway,” said Strauss, who rejected suggestions that England will automatically target the slow left-armer in his first Test.
“We will play the situation, and if there is an opportunity to be positive I would like our batsmen to take that.
“But if he is bowling well and there is turn for him, we have to be respectful.
“Generally it is important that you don’t play the man but play the ball coming down at you. It will be just the same for Beer and any of their seamers.”
Beer’s inclusion was anticipated at a venue which traditionally offers help to the slow bowlers, and Strauss is hoping it is also to the liking of England off-spinner Graeme Swann.
“I don’t think it’s going to rag all over the place, but in the second half of the game he’s going to come into it more,” he predicted.
“I think his spell in Melbourne in the second innings was outstanding.
“If he bowls anything like that, with a bit of turn in the wicket, he’s going to be a handful for most sides.”