Magellan Ashes 2017-18

WACA of old returns for final fling

The pace. The bounce. It was all there for the third Test as England’s batsmen survived then thrived on day one

Sam Ferris at the WACA Ground

14 December 2017, 09:37 PM AEST

WACA of old returns for final fling

To commemorate the final Magellan Ashes Test at the WACA Ground, the traditional traits of the historic ground returned in the form of a fast, bouncy pitch.

Australia’s fast-bowling battery of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins bowled with pace and hostility that evoked memories of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson and those terrifying, towering West Indies quicks for the best part of the 1980s and 90s. 

The Australia trio consistently registered speeds of 145kph on the speed gun and extracted trampoline-type bounce out of a pitch that offered very little sideways movement, if any. 

With the surface on their side, Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins bent their backs, pitched it short and sent the red Kookaburra ball whizzing past or into the helmets of England’s top-order batsmen.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine needed a pogo stick on day one as he repeatedly bounced vertically with arms outstretched above his head to reel in the soaring deliveries the hosts sent flying down.

On two occasions, Paine just wasn’t tall enough as he conceded eight byes in two deliveries from balls that kept on climbing on the way to the boundary. 

The quicks recalibrated and honed in on the batsmen and the most threatening proved to be Hazlewood, the right-armer who is the slowest of the pace attack, which is no insult when being compared to his quick comrades.

Hazlewood produced steepling bounce on Thursday and delivered a crushing blow to the helmet of Mark Stoneman, who ducked into a bouncer and required attention from the England medical staff.

Stoneman survives Hazlewood onslaught

Stoneman struggled with the extra bounce and was out fending a Starc vicious bouncer having been dropped twice off the bowling of Hazlewood. 

No.5 Dawid Malan was peppered early but ultimately survived to post his maiden Test century.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting watched the action unfold and said England’s batsmen found the going tough on the spiciest WACA wicket in some time.

"I think they’ve all looked a little uncomfortable," Ponting told cricket.com.au. 

"Stoneman copped a nasty one on the grille and luckily got through that one OK. 

"He got a few more on the gloves and we saw the one that hit the handle and snapped the handle in half. 

"He got a pretty solid working over. The other guys have looked OK. 

"Malan got a working over when he came out but he got through that, he weathered the storm and found a way to combat it. 

"But I was impressed by the way the boys bowled on that pitch. 

"They were probably surprised to see that much pace and bounce in the wicket today because it hasn’t been there in the last five or six years we’ve been here in Perth."

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Ponting reveled in conditions that suited short, fast bowling in his 17-year international career. 

With his trademark and prolific pull shot in his armoury, Ponting took on the fastest bowlers in the world on its fastest wicket, including the likes of Courtney Walsh, Shoaib Akhtar and Dale Steyn. 

He says the key to playing the short ball in Perth is getting a feel of the pitch’s characteristics before taking it on.

And he expects Australia’s batsmen to play the horizontal strokes when it’s their turn to bat.

"The difficult thing about Perth is when you’re starting your innings with the extra bounce and pace in the wicket it’s actually quite hard to get a good pull shot away comfortably," Ponting said. 

"But when you’ve been in the middle for 20 or 30 minutes or balls, then you get used to the consistency of the bounce and pace and I always found the WACA one of the best places in the world to play hooks and pull shots because the bounce was so true. 

"I’m sure when we see our guys get their chance to bat against the England attack – with not quite as much pace – I think you’ll see quite a lot of hooking and pulling from our batsmen."               

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21