Brad Hogg has endorsed his Scorchers teammate Michael Beer as the ideal replacement for Nathan Lyon should the Test off-spinner fail to maintain his impact this summer.
Lyon has taken just two wickets at 112.50 in his two Sheffield Shield matches this season and is facing stiff competition from Beer and Victorian left-armer Jon Holland to play against South Africa next month.
Lyon had a productive mid-year tour of the West Indies with 13 wickets in three Tests but the national selectors are concerned at the decline in his bowling since that series.
Hogg believes Lyon is labouring under the weight of expectation as the incumbent Test spinner and that Beer could fill the containing role designed by coach Mickey Arthur for his former South African charge Paul Harris.
"It would be pretty hard to drop Lyon but we have to be tough and ruthless," Hogg said.
"If players are not performing they have to get the boot. I rate Lyon highly and I hope he gets an opportunity in the first couple of Tests because he has done a good job for Australia so far.
"He has gone through a patch where he has had some success at Australian level but is now starting to feel the pressure of holding on to his spot.
"He has to keep those performances up because other spinners are coming."
Those spinners are headed by Beer, who played the second Test in the West Indies, and Holland who has been in impressive form early in the season.
Hogg urged selectors to also keep a close eye on Queensland leg-spinner Cameron Boyce.
"There is talent around but Beery is doing a good job and is probably the next one," Hogg said.
"Mickey Arthur got Paul Harris to do a specific role and Beery did that quite well with WA. He might get an opportunity down the track with Mickey as coach.
"Holland in Victoria has got something, too. Spinners can develop late and he is learning his job.
"And the leggie from Queens- land, if he can become more consistent, is a big chance.
"If you look at the history of Australian cricket, whenever we've had a good leg-spinner we have been pretty successful."
Hogg was impressed with the three young West Australian bowlers - pacemen David Vernon and Andrew Rule and contracted left-arm spinner Ashton Agar - who spent a week with the Scorchers squad in South Africa.
Agar showed enough for Hogg to predict that he could represent the Warriors this summer.
Agar also has a Scorchers contract which prompted Hogg to suggest his own Twenty20 place was under threat.
"There is talent around but Beery is doing a good job and is probably the next one."" *Brad Hogg *