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WACA stripped of Test in 2014-15

Daniel Brettig

September 11, 2013

Comments: 87 | Text size: A | A

The WACA pitch of the eve of the third Test between Australia and India, Perth, January 12, 2012
India have struggled in Perth, and the green-tinged 2012 pitch is known to have been chief among the motivators for the retaliatory dustbowls prepared for Australia's visit to India earlier this year. © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Perth is the major casualty of Australia's truncated 2014-15 Test summer, stripped of its annual match for the first time since 1976-77. Only four Tests are scheduled for a season in which India will visit, due mainly to the fixturing squeeze created by the 2015 World Cup, and the nation's two smallest and youngest major grounds in Perth and Hobart have been left off the Test calendar.

The decision has provoked an outraged response from the Western Australia Cricket Association, while the host broadcaster Channel Nine is also likely to be nonplussed about losing the one Test match of the summer it can screen in prime time to the populous eastern states, due to Perth's more westerly time zone. However it was always likely that Perth would miss out on the match due to concerns about the ground's facilities and size relative to its main rivals Brisbane and Adelaide.

While Bellerive Oval has never been a nailed-on venue, the WACA ground has invariably provided blood and thunder Test cricket, due to its uniquely fast and bouncy pitch. India were rounded up by an innings and 37 runs well inside three days in Perth in January 2012. Other considerations outlined by the CA chief executive James Sutherland included the strong claims of other grounds. Adelaide Oval's $535 million redevelopment will be complete in time for the series, while the Gabba has traditionally been host to the first Test of the summer and has consistently drawn larger crowds to its matches than Perth.

The WACA's size, a history of spotty attendances and facilities lagging behind other grounds have detracted from its standing among international venues, despite its lively pitch and a time zone more favourable to television audiences both in India and on the east coast of Australia. CA's verdict also maintains a longstanding tradition of "last in, first out" among venues - Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane all boasting of longer Test traditions than Perth.

"Though a traditional Test match venue with a proud history, the WACA ground has the smallest capacity of the five mainland Test venues and has historically attracted lower attendances," Sutherland said. "The WACA has been working hard to improve the facilities for its fans but it still requires significant improvements.

"Although the WACA has missed out on a Test match, they will play host to up to four limited-overs matches in the 2014-15 season that will see South Africa tour in a limited-overs series in November, as well as India and England competing in a tri-series in January prior to the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup."

Christina Matthews, the WACA chief executive, expressed her deep disappointment at the WACA's reduced allocation for 2014-15. "Whilst CA will provide additional limited-overs matches to replace the Test match, there is no compensation for losing a Test," she said. "The on-going effect this loss will have on the WACA and cricket in Western Australia will be devastating. We will continue talks with CA and will be seeking an understanding from them of all the elements behind the decision."

Apart from Adelaide and Brisbane, the other party most likely to be pleased by the decision are India's cricketers. Save for a victory on an uncharacteristic WACA ground surface in 2008, India have struggled in Perth, and the green-tinged 2012 pitch is known to have been chief among the motivators for the retaliatory dustbowls prepared for Australia's visit to India earlier this year.

"One goes back to the Perth Test where the wicket was green and we played to our strengths and won the Test in two and a half days," Australia's former coach Mickey Arthur said last month. "They clearly wanted retribution for that and produced some of the toughest conditions I'd ever seen. They went out of their way to prepare those conditions and I can't argue with that."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (June 25, 2014, 2:36 GMT)

Ridiculous decision to drop Perth as a test venue, i can understand not having Bellerive Oval (looking at last summers aus vs sri lanka 1st test), but not even considering that this is the 3rd most viewed test after boxing day test and new years test, due to the timezones for the eastern states, is beyond me! !

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

test > one dayers.

Gabba better be a green top after the pitches india served up

CA needs it's head read

Posted by gogoldengreens on (September 14, 2013, 7:30 GMT)

Will India let Australia play on a pitch that is not dry??? Can't believe that we give up the pitch that is the exact opposite to Indian conditions... Why not play 5 tests anyhow who wants a few extra ODI games??

Posted by DSPT on (September 13, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

As a WACA memebre for 13 years I would like to have my input. The real issue is only 4 test matches, for whatever reason CA missed the boat on that. I am sure what the Australian public want is even more ODI's in a world cup year! I buy memebership every year to view test cricket and shield cricket, the big bash an ryobi cup are added bonuses (not that there will be any of them this year). For all the people saying the WACA isn't this and isn't that, I would like to remind them it is as close to a purpose built cricket ground as we have in Australia. The view and facilities in the members area is fantastic. There are many reasons why there should be test cricket played at the WACA on a yearly basis. The WACA pitch is condusive to results, there has only been one draw since 2005, in that same time frame Adelaide Oval has played out 3 draws. If there are to be 4 test matches in years to come, the only venue to be guaranteed a test should be the MCG, with the rest to be rotated around.

Posted by JF19 on (September 13, 2013, 3:10 GMT)

I am not surprised. Look at the state of the WACA in comparison to all the other test grounds. Nothing has been done to improve the facilities or to increase the crowd capacity. Maybe it is a wake up call to improve the basics or lose the tests completely. Sure, this ground has produced some great cricketers and has had one of the best pitches in the world, but it does not cater for larger crowds and that is what brings in the money. WACA administrators should not be surprised. This may be the new Hobart where you may get one test every few years.

Posted by jargan83 on (September 13, 2013, 3:05 GMT)

People complaining about the security at the WACA, you do realise that when a Test is held at the ground it is effectively Cricket Australia in control of the ground? The security is enforcing Cricket Australia's rules not the WACA's. The cost of a ticket is ridiculous to go to a day of Cricket at the WACA and again Cricket Australia is to blame as they set the prices. I wish people would understand the orgnaisational structure of an event like a Test match before comenting

Posted by Liquefierrrr on (September 13, 2013, 0:29 GMT)

@(September 12, 2013, 9:08 GMT) & Harmony111 - India got flogged here last time and were outright embarrassing on the pace of our pitches regardless of whether they are 'flattening out' or 'slowing down'.

Shaun Tait was talked up by Dennis Lillee yes, so was Mitchell Johnson ('a once in a lifetime bowler'). Dennis Lillee's opinions, thus, are not to be relied upon as much as his bowling was - that is all you are proving.

And Harmony - we won the 08 series 2-1. No excuses.

I won't make any excuses for the 2008 test, so fair play on that, but India made plenty of excuses (and continue to) for that series. I enjoy watching them heat up because the umpiring was poor - that's not Australia's fault.

And the way they deal with poor umpiring moving forward? Scrap DRS entirely. I concede DRS has been used poorly in recent times, but it is still better with than without.

India will never get to whinge about umpiring if they don't employ DRS. You can't have your cake and eat it aswell.

Posted by Mitcher on (September 12, 2013, 22:23 GMT)

Since the Indian fans seem so keen to talk about the 07-08 series... How good was it!!! 2-1 Australia. And that Sydney Test - awesome!! Best test ever.

Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 19:56 GMT)

Judging by the comments, this article has successfully led readers away from the truth. With the way India have ruthlessly wielded their financial might against Aus (in 2008), SA now and on many other occasions in the last few years, how can anyone actually believe that turncoat Sutherland when he says its laughable that people believe there was any influence from India about this decision. The disgusting pitches encountered on Aus's last tour of India was an over the top reaction by the BCCI in retaliation for their tour of Aus. When they werent greeted by the usual batting friendly wickets theyve bullied Australia (and other countries) into preparing for them in the last decade, they retaliated by preparing the sort of dustbowls via 'selective watering' that we havent seen in years. This is simply a continuation of that bullying.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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