Third Test, Perth December 14, 2006

Postcards from the WACA

‘He’s Out’ announced the newspaper posters when Bradman’s wicket fell; Ponting now needs as little introduction.

Catch of the Day: Ian Bell usually looks all dressed up with no place to go when under the lid at short leg, but his squat, swivel and dive to collect Gilchrist’s edge was symbolic of England’s new resolve.

Ball of the Day: Bell was its undeserving recipient: the kind of which batsmen have nightmares, short, rearing, compelling a shot, doing enough to get the edge. At least, he can cite it as proof of his improvement since 2005: it is taking better deliveries to get him out.

Moment of the Day: For all the fun and frolic of plucky Panesar, the day’s decisive twist was the fall of Ricky Ponting. ‘He’s Out’ announced the newspaper posters when Bradman’s wicket fell; Ponting now needs as little introduction. The effect on England was like a pinch of snuff. It also underlined just how crucial was Giles’s drop at Adelaide – if it needed underlining.

Unsolicited advice of the day: ‘Why don’t you ring Michael Vaughan and ask him?!’ Anonymous Aussie fan in the Lillee-Marsh Stand as Andrew Flintoff indulged in lots of arm waving with Steve Harmison.

Time Shift: Thanks to WA’s adoption of daylight saving on 3 December, start time for Perth Tests is now 11.30am: a step back to the genteel days when Aussie Tests started at noon ahead of five-hour days, and another deviation from the standard 11am commencement (Brisbane, of course, has always kicked off at 10am, to accommodate the abrupt tropical nightfall). If this were a club ground, you would be playing a game of juniors in the morning. As it is not, nothing impedes the promenading of ex-players and media big-wigs on the square in search of reflected glory that is such a familiar spectacle of the modern Test.

Press Release: ’I am freezing cold, my chair keeps collapsing, the queues to the lavatory are enormous, and all the biscuits have gone’: thus, one of my normally stoical colleagues early in the afternoon. The first complaint was incontrovertible: I have been in warmer morgues. Because it is needed to cool the function room from which the media area has been cordoned off, the air conditioner is blowing like a Fremantle Doctor direct from the Arctic. A widescreen television has been installed, but is tuned to a grainy black-and-white image of the scoreboard, at which one keeps gazing because of the apparent likelihood that the camera will cut away to show Brian Luckhurst cover driving.

For some reason, too, the radio broadcast kept us company in the first session, so we know that the ABC’s air conditioner was supplying Kerry O’Keeffe with nitrous oxide; he guffawed and wheezed his way through the tensest hour of the series. Someone please put him out of my misery.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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