Australia have sprung a major over-haul of their 12-man squad for the third Ashes test at Perth against England, with the shock inclusion of the little-known Michael Beer raising eyebrows.
Along with Beer, Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith earned call-ups while Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus were recalled. Marcus North, Doug Bollinger and Xavier Doherty have all been dropped.
Hughes will replace the injured Simon Katich, while the all-rounder Steven Smith looks likely to start as no specialist batsmen was called-up to replace North.
In the bowling department, Johnson and Hilfenhaus' recalls point at a four man pace attack along with Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris.
Michael Beer's inclusion is a major surprise as it overlooks Nathan Hauritz who had bagged a first-class century and five-wicket haul for New South Wales recently.
Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hidditch, explained the selections. Michael Beer replaces Xavier Doherty in the squad. Michael is a left-arm orthodox spinner who has been very impressive at domestic level this year. He took wickets against England in the tour match earlier this summer and we expect he will bowl very well against the English on his home ground.
Phillip Hughes, though not in his best form, looks set to start at Perth as he is considered the most likely replacement for Katich, who injured his Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the series.
Marcus North will not be too shocked with his drop as he has had a disappointing start to the Ashes series. Brad Haddin's strong displays with the bat makes it likely that he will move up a place in the batting line to No. 6 with the all-rounder Steven Smith at No. 7.
Smith is a leg-spinner and has played two Tests for Australia, against Pakistan in July, as a replacement for the injured Hauritz.
Steve Smith replaces Marcus North in the 12-man squad, said Hidditch. This is obviously disappointing for Marcus who has played some outstanding Test innings for Australia but it was felt to be the right time to bring the exciting prospect Steve Smith into the Test team. Steve has already had success at international level and will also add to the bowling depth with his leg-spin bowling and dynamic fielding.
Doug Bollinger has been omitted from the squad. Both Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus did not play in Adelaide but will be strongly considered for selection in the Perth Test match where conditions will suit them. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle were the pick of our quicks at Adelaide Oval and these four make up the pace attack for the Perth Test match.
The Squad - Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Shane Watson, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Michael Beer, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus