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The four pacemen of the WACocalypse

13 January 2012 3

The book of Revelations famously has the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but on day one of the third test, Australia unleashed its own version - the four pacemen of the WACocalypse.

Already a feared venue for tourists due to the unique combination of extreme pace and bounce on offer, this particular WACA pitch was unveiled with enough grass cover to render Kermit the Frog invisible. 

With each team fielding four quicks, the toss was an important one to win, and ‘we’ll have a bowl’ were always going to be the first four words heard upon the coin’s landing.

Life is good for Michael Clarke at the moment, and after greedily hording his share of the runs, wickets and catches in Sydney, he was once again smiled upon by the cricketing Gods. 

The toss favourable, and the Indian openers were asked to apply their pads, helmets and gloves, with extra protection the order of the day.

The bible gave us Conquest, Famine, War and Death as harbingers of doom for the entire world, but Clarke was intent on releasing Hilfenhaus, Harris, Siddle and Starc as his harbingers of doom, with absolute and total destruction of the Indian batting order their one and only aim.

While not actually riding horses, the four quicks sprinted onto the field like a thoroughbred in the home straight, snapping at each other like rabid dogs in their eagerness to get the new ball. 

Siddle was frothing at the mouth, Starc towered over the others doing is best ‘Raging Bull’, while Hilfenhaus was threatening to hurl bricks at anyone standing in his way. 

But it was Famine, in the shape of Harris, who got first use of the rock hard Kookaburra.

No one looks like they’re trying harder than Ryan Harris. 

He runs to the crease, all bull-at-a-gate, huffing and puffing, probing for weakness so he can blow a house down. 

While fractionally short early, he worked away at sustained pace, and first spell figures of 5-1-5-0 certainly attest to starving the opposition of runs. 

Five overs here, four there, then six and three, Clarke used him well, albeit with the intent of never repeating himself.

When a man only gets one wicket in an innings, he wants it to be the jewel of the crown, and in India’s case, it’s the diety of Mumbai – Sachin Tendulkar. 

After bowling outswing for the best part of his spells, Harris was able to get one to duck back in from just outside off, catching the great one unawares, like a teenage boy in his bedroom when mum comes knocking. 

Conceding a miserly 33 runs from his 18 overs, working both downwind and up, depriving the batsmen of scoring opportunities, and with the prize wicket to his name, Famine had done the job indeed.

Conquest was Famine’s opening partner, and it seemed a suitably fitting moniker for Hilfenhaus after his ownership of the Sydney and Melbourne test, a five wicket innings haul in each.

Opening bowlers love two things – dismissing opening batsmen, and cleaning up easy wickets at the tail. 

In Hilf’s first spell he defeated Sehwag, who in this series has gone from ‘a danger man’ to just ‘a man’, and a lead-footed one at that. 

The obstinate Gambhir was removed in his second spell, and in his last, the opposing skipper Dhoni, who must walk out to bat at seven blowing a duck whistle only, because nothing else follows him. 

Conquest’s last conquest was Zaheer Khan, who must put some two-minute noodles on the stove before he comes in, because he bats with all the conviction of an alcoholic saying ‘no thanks’ to one more beer.

Oh yes, Hilfenhaus was the conqueror alright, taking care of business at both ends, and, with a sharp new haircut, looking good doing it.

Who else could be War but Peter Siddle? 

Arguably Australia’s best bowler over the last three or four months, here he suffered the indignity of being the last quick used! 

Red of face, full of chest, arms and legs pumping like well-oiled pistons, he all but unleashed a furious battle cry as he charged to the crease. 

A three off his first ball, and a four off his second was not the right method against a man declaring war – and Dravid paid the price later in the over, being bowled by one that was full and straight, too late to stop this breach of his defences. 

Later in the innings, when the one substantial partnership of the innings (Kohli and Laxman) was threatening to last the entire second session, there was only one man Clarke was going to ask for a breakthrough.

Another charge to the crease! Another furious battle cry! Another important wicket!

Kohli departed, soon followed by Laxman, and including the early wicket of Dravid, Siddle had ripped the heart out of India, dismissing three of the top six specialist batsmen with his fury.

A war was declared. A war was fought. And War had decimated the opposition.

Mitchell Starc, as the fourth member of this fearsome brigade, did his best work at the Death. 

The tall, angular quickie can be as erratic as deposed leftie Mitch Johnson, and early that was certainly the case, spraying balls at pace, while only causing as much trouble as a solitary ant at a crowded picnic. 

But after lunch he improved, and started to show why he has the faith of the selectors. 

And when the innings was on its last legs, Starc injected himself into the attack to read the last rites, bringing down the death knell with two wickets for three runs in his last spell.

-       From the book of @camtherose, ch 12, verse 29

And India looked, and they beheld four men on horses. These men were given power over this meek opposition to decimate using swing, pace, and hostility. There would be famine, leading to war, each of the eleven would be conquered, and death would follow, in the form of all out for 161.

Post-script – After India was bowled out, Dave Warner poked and prodded his way to be not out overnight.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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