Australia v West Indies 2009-10

Roach's speed doesn't scare Australia

Brydon Coverdale in Perth

December 14, 2009

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Brad Haddin crunches one through the off-side, Australia v West Indies, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2nd day, November 27, 2009
Brad Haddin has warned the West Indies bowlers about how easy it is to leak runs at the WACA © Getty Images
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A West Indian fast man hitting the WACA surface in the mid-150kph region is a prospect that once upon a time would have given Australian batsmen nightmares. And possibly a few broken bones. But Brad Haddin said the idea of facing up to Kemar Roach, who reached impressive speeds at Adelaide Oval last week, was not keeping the locals awake at night.

That is in part because the fast and bouncy WACA surfaces of the 1980s are a thing of the past; the pitches haven't been any quicker than those elsewhere in Australia over the past few years. The ground's reputation can also lure fast bowlers into an over-aggressive approach, which can backfire on a surface where runs tend to become easier to score as the match wears on.

"I don't think our approach to Roach will be any different to the first few Tests," Haddin said. "He obviously can get the speed up on the radar gun but we have seen on this ground with some of the fast bowlers it's been their downfall with trying to bowl too quick and too short. The next thing you look up on the board and they have gone for six or seven an over. It can sometimes be a pretty ruthless place to bowl for a fast bowler."

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting said after the Adelaide Test that Roach, who is easily the fastest of the West Indies attack, would be a handful in Perth. But this is the same Ponting who a year ago was bemoaning the fact that the WACA no longer possessed its trademark speed and carry, and who would no doubt love to see Roach over-attack and leak runs.

The West Indies manager Joel Garner remembers the WACA as a venue where he and his fast-bowling colleagues rattled the Australians regularly. From 1975 to 1993, West Indies played four Tests in Perth and won them all, including three innings victories. Australia have lost their past two encounters at the WACA but Garner said his players would be cautious of the hosts despite their indifferent history at the venue.

"I don't really look at the records too much because you tend to get carried away," Garner said. "You have to play in the framework of what you've got going. I know Australia will also want to play to the best of their ability because they want to continue in the winning mode. We'll be very wary of them."

Garner said the key for Roach and the rest of the West Indies attack was not to get carried away with the ground's reputation, but rather to know their limitations and play within them. However, it will be hard for the fast men to tone down their aggression if the WACA returns to its bouncy former self, which given the baking heat leading up to the match, is possible.

Australia are unsure if they will have Peter Siddle in their attack as he tries to prove his hamstring is fine, but Mitchell Johnson will enjoy a return to the venue of his brutal 8 for 61 against South Africa last year. It was the same match in which South Africa chased a near-record 414 to win and Haddin was looking forward to the prospect of batting on the WACA as well as keeping to some seriously fast bowling.

"It makes for a lot of fun for both," Haddin said. "Traditionally when you have had some great Tests here the bouncy wickets make for some very attractive shot play and it's good for the keepers, you get a good look at the ball and get to stand a long way back and see the ball flying through. It is one of those grounds that can be very hard to get in but once you're in it's one of the better places in the world to score."

West Indies' scoring could be heavily dependent on their most experienced player, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who had scans after hurting his finger in Adelaide but is expected to take his place in Perth. The visitors can level the series with victory at the WACA after their strong showing in Adelaide, but Haddin said the result had not increased the pressure on the Australians.

"I am not viewing the West Indies any different than I did in Brisbane," Haddin said." They put up a better display in Adelaide but the bottom line is Adelaide was a draw."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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