It’s a strange twist of fate that the same factor that denied Michael Beer selection for Victoria many years ago has now given the spinner an opportunity with his native state in the upcoming Matador Cup.
Beer dominated the Victorian Premier Cricket competition under the noses of Bushrangers’ selectors between 2006 and 2010, taking 163 wickets in 70 games in that four-year period, but didn’t get a chance at first-class level until he made the move to Western Australia in 2010.
The left-arm spinner’s impressive start with his new state early in the 2010-11 Sheffield Shield season saw him make a shock Test debut in the last Test of that summer’s Ashes series, but almost five years later – at the end of the 2014-15 season – he was axed by the Warriors.
Now back in Melbourne, Beer believes Victoria’s faith in opting for experienced performers over unproven youngsters, something he thinks was the reason behind his extended exclusion from Victoria’s ultra-successful side of the late 2000s, has now helped him win selection in their Matador Cup squad.
“The reasons that I didn’t get the opportunity back then was because of how Victoria go about it, which I think is the right way to go,” the 32-year-old told cricket.com.au from Perth, where Victoria open their campaign against South Australia on October 5.
“They’ve got a system that probably gets me to this situation where I’m getting the opportunity now.
“They’ve been so successful in both formats over a long period of time. They want to win and hence why they’ve got five players in the Aussie ODI squad (for the five-match series in South Africa).
“That’s from having good depth, good winning records and good players. Probably what stopped me back then is what’s given me the opportunity now.
“I was lucky enough to get an opportunity with Western Australia and I went over and took it. If you want to play at the highest level and get the best out of yourself, you’re willing to go anywhere.
“Especially with me having a role as a specialist spinner, there’s going to be opportunities at some places and not others. I’m lucky to be getting an opportunity now with the Vics.”
Beer played 45 matches for WA in his spell across the Nullarbor and while he got another berth at Test level in 2012 in the West Indies, the rise of fellow left-arm orthodox spinner Ashton Agar saw him lose his place in the Warriors’ Sheffield Shield side a few years later.
Still holding a contract with KFC Big Bash League side the Melbourne Stars, a competition in which he remains one of the most economical bowlers going around, he returned home for the 2015-16 season after losing his contract with WA.
Another impressive season in his first summer back with St Kilda put Beer back on Victoria’s radar, culiminating in his call-up to a Bushrangers squad missing a number of players through injury and national duties for their upcoming Matador Cup campaign.
It’s a squad captained by Peter Handscomb, a teammate of Beer’s from both the Stars and the Saints, and a player he’s seen develop from a highly-rated teenager to now a touted Australia Test prospect.
“You could see when he first came down to St Kilda as a 16, 17-year-old what talent he had and what potential he had,” Beer said of Handscomb.
“You could see he was a real natural talent straightaway. I still remember his first full year in the Firsts, he just couldn’t make any runs. He put a lot pressure of himself and there’s a lot of pressure in that club environment.
“But (despite that) we thought, ‘hang on, this kid is going to be good’.
“The way he kept working on his game and developed as an individual in that year really set him up.
“He kept doing the right things and eventually the runs came, and he’s come on leaps and bounds since then.”
Quick Single: Matador Cup preview - Victoria
Handscomb’s men face a tough challenge in the early stages of the Matador Cup.
They play the first two matches of their campaign at the traditionally pace-friendly WACA ground but their initial 14-man squad contains just two specialist quicks, in Jackson Coleman and Matt Doric, neither of whom have any domestic cricket experience.
But along with Jon Holland, Fawad Ahmed and Glenn Maxwell, Beer forms part of a strong spin component in the squad and, considering their abundance of seam-bowling allrounders, he believes Victoria will be a force in the 50-over tournament.
“The best part is we’ve got allrounders like Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Marcus Stoinis who can all bat up high,” Beer said.
“It gives you plenty of options for the make-up of the side and there’s plenty of variety there for the captain in the field.
“It’s a big bonus for a competition like this where you move around and play in different conditions.
“We’ve got a couple of class spinners in Fawad Ahmed and Jon Holland, so it’s all about adapting to conditions and who you play against on the day.”