Langer says Warne and MacGill could bowl in tandem October 19, 2006

WACA turns from pace to spin


Shane Warne gets a lengthy workout during the Pura Cup match in Perth © Getty Images

The WACA's pitch has long been considered the home of fast bowling, but its changing nature could force Australia to break with years of tradition and play two legspinners for the third Ashes Test from December 14. Fast bowling greats Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Glenn McGrath, Wes Hall, Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose have savoured Perth's pace and bounce and made the ground synonymous with express bowling.

However, the increasingly placid and slow nature of the surface has forced Western Australia to turn increasingly to spin in the last two seasons. The transformation from fast-bowler's paradise to spinning deck culminated in this week's drawn Pura Cup match with Victoria, in which only 18 wickets fell in four days and spin was the favoured bowling option for much of the game.

Few would have ever envisioned spinners being used in tandem as a common practice at the WACA. Yet by the end of the first session of the game Shane Warne and Cameron White, who only picked up a wicket each, were operating at either end. Western Australia used the left-arm finger spinner Aaron Heal and part-time offspinner Marcus North for long periods, and Adam Voges was also employed.

Justin Langer, the Western Australia captain, compared the pitch for the Victoria game to the one for last summer's drawn South Africa Test, and said playing both Warne and Stuart MacGill against England was shaping as a real option. "You'd have to consider it, definitely," Langer was reported by AFP. "And that is unusual for here, to even think about it. You'd have to consider it if it was as dry for the Test match as it is at the moment."

Langer said the usual assistance for the quick bowlers early in a WACA match was missing. "You expect as an opening batsman here for the first two sessions of the game to be really hard work," he said. "You normally have to work your backside off to get through."

Warne has usually struggled at the WACA, with 32 wickets in 11 Tests, but he equalled his best haul at the venue when he took six wickets against South Africa last year. MacGill has played only two Tests in Perth, taking six wickets when Warne was not in the side.