Mitchell Johnson at the WACA. For the better part of a decade, this was one of the most watchable parts of Australia's home summer. Johnson was quick anywhere, but something about Perth brought his threat to a new level, even in the years when the WACA's typical pace and bounce suffered a lull. Nowhere did he take more Test wickets than the 45 at 22.77 he claimed in Perth, and his best work there came against South Africa.
Johnson was back at the WACA on Wednesday, 50 days out from the ground hosting South Africa for the first Test of the Australian summer. But this year, South Africa's batsmen will not have to worry about the threat of Johnson running in on a zippy pitch with a breeze to help him swing the ball. And yet another left-arm danger could be just as effective, if not more, when the home summer begins: Mitchell Starc.
Johnson's retirement during last season stripped 313 wickets from Australia's Test attack, but the transition to a post-Johnson era has been smooth. That is largely thanks to Starc, whose swing, pace and mastery of the yorker have made him one of the most challenging fast bowlers in world cricket at the moment. If Australia's recent series in Sri Lanka was a disaster it was not because of Starc, who topped Australia's wicket list with 24 at 15.16.
It was the highest series tally ever by a visiting fast bowler in Sri Lanka, and it was followed, in the one-day series, by Starc breaking the world record for reaching 100 ODI wickets in the fewest matches. Australia will be greatly looking forward to seeing what Starc can achieve during the six home Tests this summer, after he missed the second half of last season due to an ankle injury that required surgery and a long recovery.
"It was really exciting to see Mitch Starc perform well," Johnson said in Perth on Wednesday. "I thought he was really close when we went over to England for that last Ashes series, and wasn't quite there. But he's shown that after his injury he's really committed to working really hard and did all the work. I've kept in touch with him and he was really positive going into that series. To be the leading wicket-taker in Sri Lanka in those conditions was a real positive and a good step forward.
"He can dominate again [at home] on wickets that are going to provide bounce, and with his height, it's going to be very difficult. He bowls the fuller ball, gets the ball up there, and especially on a wicket like the WACA where it can get good bounce, it's really vital to be up there. He'll swing the ball when he pitches the ball up.
"That yorker he's got is very dangerous. He's always working to improve his game. He's still pretty fresh in Test cricket. He's only going to get better. He's going to keep breaking records, I think, as well. It's really exciting to see him play really well."
The first Test against South Africa will be Australia's first in Perth since Johnson farewelled Test cricket there last November. The three bowlers who rounded out Australia's attack alongside Johnson in that match - Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon - have continued to steer Australia's Test bowling with success since then.
"It's nice to be able to finish and have him performing in the line-up that Australia have," Johnson said of Starc. "It's a pretty inexperienced bowling line-up. They've got Nathan Lyon there, who's got plenty of experience spin-bowling, and Josh Hazlewood is still trying to find his feet. There's always going to be pressure on him to be like a [Glenn] McGrath.
"But I think we've got a really good bowling line-up at the moment, and it's really well-balanced. Those guys are really tall as well, so in these conditions they're going to be really difficult to play. Coming up against South Africa at the start is really going to test Australia. But the bowling is really good at the moment. I'm really happy where it's placed."
Johnson, like the current Australians, is less happy with where the team is placed on the Test rankings - No.3 after losing top spot in Sri Lanka - but it is also a time of change for South Africa, who are currently ranked fifth.
"South Africa are going through a bit of a change at the moment but there are a few guys that have just come into really good form," Johnson said. "Dale Steyn's back in form, Morne [Morkel] is floating around there as well, and they've got a great batting line-up as always. Australia have always competed very hard against them."