Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 9, 2012

Bouncy pitch awaits India at WACA


If India are to make a comeback in the series, they will have to do it the hard way. The WACA curator feels the pitch is getting back its original - famously quick and bouncy - characteristics, and expects this track to behave similar to the one used in the Ashes last season, when Australia played four quicks and won the Test inside four days.

Australia have lost James Pattinson to injury but have the services of Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc should they want to go in with four fast bowlers for the third Test, starting on Friday the 13th. Starc made a case for himself with figures of 3 for 17 in a rain-curtailed BBL game on Sunday night in Sydney.

"We are hoping it will certainly be like last year," Cameron Sutherland, the curator, said. "It [playing four fast bowlers] won't be the wrong decision if the preparation goes as it is expected to."

The proper preparation will begin on Tuesday. Right now the pitch is hard to tell from the outfield. Sutherland is happy with what is underneath. "It is pretty hard underneath," he said. "We have already done a lot of work just getting the grass where we want, coverage-wise. The actual rolling starts tomorrow."

In the BBL game at the WACA on Sunday night, Perth Scorchers scored 184 and won by 42. Expect batting in the Test to be tougher, though. India won the last Test they played here, but this is expected to be a different surface altogether. "We're expecting more pace and bounce than the last time," Sutherland said. "Good cricket wicket last time, but we hope to have maybe an extra 20% pace and bounce."

That won't be music to India's ears, beleaguered as they are by six straight losses away from home. "That's what we are aiming for. We are in a better place now than when India came here the last time," Sutherland said. "We have redeveloped the whole wicket block over the last four years, and we are starting to get some really good results.

"We have changed our soil type, tried to align it to the traditional WACA characteristics. Probably more so pre-1980s, and it has taken a fair while to achieve that. We have also changed the grass type and how we prepare the wicket. We have tinkered with the whole model basically, and come up with something we think is pretty close to the mark."

Sutherland's dream pitch is a kiss-off, where the ball just kisses the surface and bounces off. He says they are getting close to it. "We weren't getting any cracking," he said of the days when Perth lost its bounce, relatively speaking. "We were getting some hardness, but not really hard. We weren't getting grass recovery, which made it hard to get a surface where we could get some nice kiss-off, where the ball hits and carries through. We are pretty close to achieving that now. Mostly that comes from the soil. It's a combination with the grass as well. One allows the other to work in harmony. So we are pretty close to where we want to be."

However, Michael Hussey, a Western Australian himself, is not getting carried away with the pitch. "I hope it's a nice, fast bouncy pitch," he said. "We play those conditions very well. It is very different to what the Indian players are used to from their home country. But having said that, they've got unbelievably experienced players who have been in Australia before, performed well in Australia before, so I expect them to adapt to the conditions pretty quickly."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marcus on January 12, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    Guys, these players are professionals. They, batsmen especially are paid massive sums of money to bat on these curated pitches. If they're bouncy, flat or turning so be it! It makes the game interesting. It's terrible that people are moaning about the wicket all the time, because face it, it's not like they roll a new one at the end of each day. If a team didn't pick the right bowlers, then that's too bad! The batsman have even less of an excuse, because this is what they should have been training for. Anyway, at the end of the day, as one of the Australian players said, they're still going to be sending the ball down at the same speed.

  • Srinivas on January 11, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    @indianpunter, of course nothing wrong in making pitches to suit the home side. I'm just trying to spread the phrase - 'dodgy grassbowls' for pace friendly tracks. Well, we have more than a handful of terms for spin friendly tracks making the rounds - dustbowls, underprepared and dangerous dustbowls, dodgy dustbowls, flat tracks, dead tracks, batsmen friendly tracks, batting paradises (pray how?) and whatnot just because they don't support one kind of bowling - that is pace. Am I clear now? Oh yes, Australia definitely deserved to win and big up to our Aussie Comrades. Nothing against their team. It was a pleasure watching Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Pattinson, Hilfy and Siddle, in no particular order. When there is a consensus among fans that we will address all kinds of tracks with respect, I shall also stop using the term 'dodgy grassbowls". :)

  • Thank You on January 11, 2012, 9:34 GMT

    Looking at the quality of these 3 day wickets is just appalling. The kiwis used to prepare such grazing fields and India stopped touring over there - BCCI should do the same with all the rag-tag boards that don't have a pot and perhaps that ought to knock some sense into them. The Indian masses should keep their sets tuned to other entertainment - send a message to the advertisers that series on sub-standard wickets will not be watched. No money no honey - simple. Might as well decide the game on the toss and not waste anyone's time.

  • Andrew on January 11, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - no worries, I see where you're coming from, for what it is worth, I don't bag Indian pitches (in general) as being dust bowls, an exception was that Mumbai shocker. I think pitches around the world should have different characteristics, the problem with India is, if they persist in low grassless turners, that's all they'll ever be good on. I also didn't think that the SCG or MCG were that much of a "grass bowl" - the 2nd Test against NZ in Hobart was so unreal it could be described as a Rainforest!!!! BTW - I've heard a fair bit of discussion about the colour of the pitch & they are having heatwaves & bushfires across the state in WA (opposite to what is happening on the Eastern Seaboard), so the curator will keep it well grassed till just before the Test & then shave it down. You don't want a WACA pitch cracking badly on the first day - there is not enough protective equipment to endure that!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Srinivas on January 10, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    @Mitcher, agree with you. That's a more balanced view and I see that you didn't call our challenging spinning tracks as dustbowls and dodgy dustbowls and all of that nonsense. I would want more people from your part of the world, England, SA and New Zealand to address our turning tracks with respect instead of deriding them as flat, dead, batsmen friendly etc...A turning track is different from a batting paradise or dead or flat....If a track starts to spin, non-subcontinent people are quick to use ludicrous terms like dodgy dustbowl etc instead of respecting it as a challenging spinning track. That's the reason why I'm deriding the challenging pace tracks as dodgy grassbowls.....not that I don't realise that they actually are challenging pace friendly tracks.

  • Mick on January 10, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    In all seriousness, I'd love a considered answer from some Indian fans. If Australia is producing doctored wickets to suit the home team: why a raging greentop (the only one of summer so far) in Hobart for NZ, who love those conditions? Why a batting paradise for India in Sydney? Why a seamer (along with the standard swing) in Perth when our batting has been ripped apart in similar conditions multiple times? I might add I have no problem with turning tracks in India - that is the natural state of pitches in that part. I only complain about Indian pitches when they offer nothing for bowlers and simply produce draws and batfests. Have regularly bemoaned the flat rubbish tracks we've seen in Australia until recently.

  • Srinivas on January 10, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    @Meety, that's just my way of saying it. If spin friendly tracks are being derided as dodgy dustbowls then pace friendly wickets will be derided as dodgy grassbowls. Let's get rid off both the terms and address both the tracks with respect. It should first start from non-subcontinent fans by stop using the phrase dodgy dustbowls because they started it first :).

  • Dru on January 10, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    I think this is great to see the WACA going back to what it was and hopefully some great match up's say Steyn V Clark or Pattinson V De Villiers. I think having different wickets in different countires or even within a country is great and expected. Just dont complain when you come to the sub-continent of low spinning tracks!! The thing that amazed me most is not that a spinning SCG and Perth is suddenly flying, but the complains when Aus tour to Asia, constantly complaining about the tracks. One thing about asia is the wickets have always been the same - slow, low and spin friendly - its never changed and its the same for every opponent. Wonder if the Aussies will produce the same wickets is SA were the touring side.

  • kannan on January 10, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    @ Dravid_Gravitas, there is no harm in making pitches to suit the home team. India has done that for decades. So your sarcasm is clearly out of place. Sydney and melbourne were decent pitches. There is no shame is accepting that India lost to a better prepared, fit, more committed side. And one that puts test cricket first.

  • Jason on January 10, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    @VikkuVinakaram - Perth has ALWAYS been fast and bouncy with the exception of the past 5-7 years in the period after they relaid the square. We used to host the West Indies in the 1970s and 1980s with the fastest and bounciest pitch in the world in Perth and get smashed by them - that's what Test Cricket is about: testing both teams under various different conditions. Australia has traditionally had one seaming pitch (Brisbane - and now Hobart), one fast and bouncy (Perth), one low and slow (Melbourne), one road for batting (Adelaide) and one raging turner (Sydney). Unfortunately, ODIs and 20-20 have hurt these pitches, as has their dual use for Aussie Rules football. I think having a variety of pitches in one series is to be applauded. In fact, if anything, India should be looking forward to a fast, bouncy pitch: it's not as if their team is overloaded with quality spinners, is it?

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