Australia v New Zealand Tests
Why the Mitchells love the WACA
Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc speak of their love for the WACA Ground ahead of the second Test
13 November 2015, 10:29 AM AEST
The WACA Ground is world renowned as a fast-bowlers paradise so it will come as no surprise that Australia's pace spearheads love bowling in the west.
In an ominous warning for New Zealand's batsmen ahead of the second Commonwealth Bank Test starting on Friday, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc spoke to cricket.com.au about the enjoyment they get bowling at a ground that first hosted a Test match way back in 1970.
Since then, the home of cricket in Perth has grown a reputation for its fast and bouncy wicket, which has been a graveyard for many an overseas batsman and a haven for the world's fast men.
Johnson, who has 42 wickets from six Tests at his adopted home ground, says the contest between bat and ball on such a fast track is what excites him the most.
Johnson picked up 6-38 at the WACA in 2010 // Getty
"I love bowling at Perth because it's a fair wicket," Johnson said.
"As a batsman - and Matthew Hayden used to say this - you might get some good balls if you look to leave or play straight and dig in, but you will get your bad balls and you're able to get on top of those.
"As a bowler you do get a little bit early (because) you've got that bounce and pace in the wicket. As a cricket wicket, it brings both into it - batting and bowling.
"It's a pretty fair wicket, it's got flat run-ups and the outfields are quite nice and it's a nice ground to play at. I've always enjoyed playing there and you get a Fremantle Doctor (sea breeze), which helps in the afternoon."
Starc has also enjoyed the two Tests he's played in the west; he averages 23 with the ball and he also slammed an unbeaten 68 there against South Africa in 2012.
Like Johnson, Starc says the conditions in Perth create a unique and intriguing contest between bat and ball.
Starc celebrates a wicket against South Africa at the WACA // Getty
"I guess it's got its own characteristics – there's no other wicket like it in Australia," he said.
"The bounce and the carry, the breeze always works nicely for the left-hand/right-hand combination. On a nice day for cricket it's a lovely place to play.
"The ball can be swinging around. It's always got enough in the wicket. If the batsmen work hard through the first hour of a Test match and come out the other end (they can) score runs really quickly.
"But as a bowler you're always in the game if you get the ball in the right area. It's a fantastic cricket wicket.
"There's always great atmosphere there. You have the crowd on the hill on a nice summer's day. It's a pretty nice place to play cricket."
A native of Queensland, Johnson has called Perth home since he left the sunshine state in 2008.
While his love of the WACA Ground no doubt stems from the eight-wicket haul he took against South Africa in 2008 and the 6-38 he claimed against England in 2010, it was love of a different kind that led to his move west.
"It was purely because of Jess," Johnson said of his Perth-based wife Jessica Bratich.
"I would've loved to stay in Queensland and that was one of the hardest decisions for me leaving Queensland.
"It was more leaving the guys at Queensland Cricket; I'd grown up with them and played a lot of cricket and I knew I was going to miss it, but I have really enjoyed the move.
Johnson has taken 42 wickets in six Tests at the WACA // Getty
"I haven't played too much with WA but the games I have I have really enjoyed purely because it was easier for us to be in WA with her family so close and me travelling all the time."
And being in Perth also means that the left-armer is close to his cricketing mentor, Test legend Dennis Lillee.
"He came down to a few (training) sessions and was able to help out," Johnson said.
"Even recently I went over to his place and had a good chat for a couple of hours and talked about the game. It's really good to have that opportunity; not many people get that."
While the WACA Ground will continue to be a feature of cricket in the west, the Western Australian Cricket Association announced this year that the venue will be redeveloped into a boutique ground with a capacity of between 10,000 and 15,000 people when the new 60,000-seat Perth Stadium is completed in 2018.
The establishment of the new arena in Burswood will mean the marquee international matches and KFC Big Bash League games will move away from the WACA, with the older venue to host Sheffield Shield matches as well as Test and one-day internationals not involving marquee teams South Africa, England, and India.
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