England's chance to end Perth jinx
Perth has hardly been England's favourite Australian venue over the last two decades and more, but when the third Ashes Test starts on Thursday, they'll have an excellent opportunity to reverse that trend. They're clearly the in-form side, and Australia haven't quite been at their dominant best in Perth lately. Of their last three Tests here, Australia have lost two, against India and South Africa, in 2008.
England's misfortunes at the WACA extend a bit further than that: they've played 11 Tests in all, beginning 1970, and they've only won once, in 1978-79, when the Australian team was severely depleted due to the Packer exodus. In fact, England's overall win-loss ratio of 0.14 is their worst among grounds where they've played at least ten Tests. In the last two decades, England have had absolutely no cheer at this venue, losing five out of five. In these five Tests, Australian batsmen have averaged 38.11 runs per wicket, with five hundreds and 14 fifties; England have averaged 20.28, with two hundreds and ten fifties - Graham Thorpe and Alastair Cook are the only ones to have scored centuries here in the last couple of decades.
|Venue||Tests||Win/ loss||Draw||W/L ratio|
The Australian batsmen have generally enjoyed the bounce in Perth, but the stats for their middle-order batsmen at this ground is mixed. Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey all average in the mid-to-late 40s, but Ponting, especially, would be disappointed with his conversion rate here: he has made seven 50-plus scores but only one century, way back in 1999 against Pakistan. Since 2000, Ponting has played 17 innings at the WACA, made five fifties, but hasn't gone on to a three-figure score.
|Brad Haddin||2||251||62.75||0/ 2|
|Shane Watson||1||119||59.50||0/ 1|
|Michael Clarke||5||427||47.44||1/ 2|
|Ricky Ponting||14||933||46.65||1/ 6|
|Michael Hussey||5||411||45.67||1/ 3|
Among the Australian bowlers, Mitchell Johnson has been among the wickets here, taking 21 in three matches at an average of 22.
There's been plenty of talk about pace and bounce at the WACA pitch, but clearly over the last few years conditions aren't as tricky as they once used to be for batting. In the last five Tests here, the average runs scored per wicket is 36.73, and of the four wins, three were achieved by the team which won the toss and chose to bat. And batting first clearly isn't much a problem either - the average runs per wicket in the first innings of the match is 36.74; in the other three innings it's 26.32 (second), 42.27 (third) and 43.94 (fourth). Last year, Australia made 520 for 7 declared in their first innings, while there have been two other 500-plus first-innings scores in the last ten years. In the last Ashes Test at this ground, Australia were bundled out for 244 in their first innings, but they hit back by bowling England out for 215, and then went on to pile up 527 for 5 in their second innings.
The architect of that Australian collapse for 244 had been Monty Panesar, the left-arm spinner who took 5 for 92 on a first-day pitch which was supposed to have favoured fast bowling. In fact, over the last five years, pace hasn't had such a devastating effect on batsmen here: fast bowlers concede more than 35 runs per wicket, an average that is only slightly better than that of spinners during this period. With Graeme Swann in outstanding form and Australia's fast bowlers struggling for penetration, England have an outstanding opportunity to finally reverse their losing run on their least favourite cricket ground of all.
|Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo