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December 19, 2008
Eight is enough
Mitchell Johnson began the day with seven wickets and a rare opportunity to collect nine out of ten. When his bouncer accounted for Dale Steyn the chance to record Australia's best Test innings analysis became tantalisingly close. Arthur Mailey's 9 for 121 against England at the MCG in 1920-21 was the only time an Australian had grabbed nine in a Test innings. When Mark Boucher top-edged a skier the 88-year-old record looked set to go, but neither Brad Haddin running back with the gloves nor Brett Lee at fine leg could quite reach the ball. Peter Siddle eventually got the final breakthrough and Johnson's 8 for 61 left him eighth on Australia's all-time list.
The case for a replay
A week after Billy Bowden gave the best possible advertisement for the referral system with a howler to give Paul Collingwood out caught off his pad in Chennai, Aleem Dar provided another compelling case for the introduction of more technology to help umpires. In the New Zealand-West Indies series the players have the right to refer an umpire's decision to the TV official and Matthew Hayden would certainly have used the privilege had it been on offer in Perth. Hayden had spent 39 minutes labouring to 4 when he was given out caught and bowled after the ball lobbed off his pad and back to Dale Steyn. The umpire felt Hayden had hit it but there was nearly enough room to park a small vehicle between bat and ball. If the ICC's elite panel has a Christmas party, Bowden and Dar can compare notes and perhaps eye exam results.
Paul Harris copped a few jeers from the crowd on the opening day when he repeatedly aborted his run-up, once because he swallowed a fly but several other times for no apparent reason. There were questions over whether it was the strong wind but Harris said that was not the case - after all, having grown up with the howling gales at Fish Hoek on the Cape Peninsula, the Fremantle Doctor seemed like a gentle breeze by comparison. In any case, there were no insects or zephyrs to blame when Harris couldn't complete the run-up for his first ball on the third day. The WACA crowd remembered and a gentle jeer encouraged him to get his approach right for the next delivery.
Bend it, stretch it
Back spasms have troubled Ricky Ponting in the past couple of years so there were some concerned faces in the Australian dressing room when Ponting seemed to be having similar problems during his innings of 32. He was squared up by a Jacques Kallis delivery that raced off the edge for four and immediately afterwards he was bending over to touch his toes, then thrusting his hands in the air and twisting from side to side. The physio Alex Kountouris hurried out at the end of the over but the news was good - Ponting's back was not the problem. He had complained of soreness across his stomach and it turned out that he had a mild abdominal strain, although he was not in danger of missing any of the match or the Boxing Day Test.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Shakib Al Hasan trained with his team-mates as the BCB directors held their meeting in Mirpur, unaware of the massive punishment he was about to be hit with