Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day

A proper Perth whacking

England's WACA record suggested they would struggle and that proved to be the case with a thumping defeat

Andrew Miller at the WACA

December 19, 2010

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

The WACA is the venue that packs an onomatopoeic punch, and England, in keeping with their terrible record at the ground, were whacked out of sight this week, good and proper. One victory in 12 visits is how their statistics now read, after a performance that might feel entirely familiar to the cricket-watching fraternity in Perth, but seems totally at odds with the confidence and expectation levels that England harboured coming into the contest.

To write their defeat off to old-fashioned English complacency would be to do a disservice to an exceptional and career-transforming spell from Mitchell Johnson (not to mention another staggeringly composed century from Australia's second renaissance man, Michael Hussey) but there's no question that England were caught off guard this week. Ricky Ponting said before the match that the WACA conditions would be the most alien ever encountered by England's batsmen. To judge by their downfall, he was proved entirely right.

"I may have mentioned that coming into the game," said Ponting. "I'd seen some other results in places around the world that they'd had, I know a lot about their stats and their facts and figures here at the WACA which don't make for flattering reading, so I felt this was a good week for us. We play these conditions really well so it is just as much about how we play as the opposition play. I know for a fact that there are a lot of times that the England team come here and make scores below 200 and we've done that to them twice this week."

Could it be that England allowed themselves to be duped? Their exhaustive planning for this campaign involved ten straight days in Perth at the very start of the tour, but the pitch that they encountered in their three-day warm-up against Western Australia was nothing like as lively as this. Cameron Sutherland, the WACA curator, told Andy Flower there and then to expect extra bounce for the Test match, but the message was lost in translation as England honed their strokeplay on a succession of placid decks at the Gabba, Adelaide and latterly against Victoria at the MCG, on the slowest pudding they've played on in months.

Andrew Strauss, inevitably, was dismissive of that notion. "I don't buy into that theory that it's just because of bounce we got bowled out," he said. "I just think we didn't react well to a couple of good spells of bowling. Mitchell Johnson started swinging it and before we knew it we had lost three batsmen to lbw. As I have said before, the issue to address is if you lose one or two wickets you make sure you don't lose three, four, five in a row."

But the very fact that England couldn't pick themselves up off the canvas suggested that they were unprepared for the chinning they received in this Test. Instead they crashed to their sixth straight defeat at the WACA, and - true to Ponting's research - their seventh sub-200 total in their last 12 innings, in which time they've exceeded 300 just once. And since their high-scoring draw in 1986, which also happened to be the last time England successfully defended the Ashes in Australia, the nature of the beatings have been particularly traumatic as well.

Today, England's second-innings 123 was the same that they mustered on this ground 16 years ago, when Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting were dispatched into retirement in the midst of a collapse of 6 for 27 - but despite the similarity of the result, the circumstances this time are very different

First there were two "goodnight-and-p***-off" uppercuts in 1990-91 and 1994-95, as the tourists were routed in the final matches of the rubber; then came two Ashes-sealing crushings in 2002-03 and 2006-07, which were marked by brutality of differing types from Brett Lee with the ball and Adam Gilchrist with the bat. In between whiles there was an agenda-restoring victory in 1998-99, after a thunderstorm had saved England from certain defeat at the Gabba a fortnight earlier.

Today, England's second-innings 123 was the same that they mustered on this ground 16 years ago, when Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting were dispatched into retirement in the midst of a collapse of 6 for 27 - but despite the similarity of the result, the circumstances this time are very different. Eighteen months ago at Headingley, they were left facing an even more traumatic scenario, after an innings defeat in the penultimate Test had placed the onus on England to win at The Oval to reclaim the Ashes - which they did. This time at least they are holders, which gives them two shots at a single decisive victory in the course of the festive finale.

"In 2009 it was a see-sawing series and there's no reason to expect this one not to be," said Strauss. "But up until this game our cricket has been very consistent. We dropped off this game, there's no doubt about it, but if we can regain those levels of consistency then we've got a fair chance of going on and winning the series. At the same time as a batting line-up we will be very disappointed with our two performances. We've got to take it on the chin, learn the lessons and move on."

As England showed all through the summer against Pakistan, they have a collective vulnerability against the moving ball - a trait that another of the world's best batting teams, India, showcased in damp conditions on the first day at Centurion this week. The Highveld, of course, was the scene of another of England's remarkable recent capitulations, as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel destroyed them in Johannesburg back in January. But when the going has been good, few line-ups have been better at cashing in than England, and it's a fact that they will cling to as the intensity of the series steps up.

"We were in a very good position to take control of the game but we weren't able to do that and you have got to give Australia a lot of credit for the way they bowled," said Strauss. "At the same time we have got to keep perspective about things and realise there has been a hell of a lot of good batting on this tour so far. We have no reason to expect that to be any different going forward."

As England move forward to Boxing Day at Melbourne, however, there will scarcely be a backwards glance at the WACA. It's not a venue upon which England teams like to dwell.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 21, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

rvp68: "And can India rebound and show some mettle? ".....ahhhhhh, who cares mate, the Ashes is on!! Think you're in the wrong blog...

Posted by Capricorn60 on (December 20, 2010, 16:28 GMT)

@staalBurgher - Frankly I don't know which test in India in recent years was just a minefield of a spinning track that the match ended in three days! Most pitches in India are so dead that most batsmen [including that from visiting Test teams] have made hay & scored tonnes of runs whilst the bowlers of both sides have toiled without much reward. These pitches don't even break up on the 4/5th days & which is why even Harbhajan & fellow spinners in the Indian team have struggled to take wickets! The ONLY poor spinning strip I can remember is one many years ago in Mumbai where India beat the Aussies in three days [after I think already losing the series] when even Michael Clarke took took 5/6 wickets in an innings - which remains his best bowling to date!

Posted by StaalBurgher on (December 20, 2010, 10:29 GMT)

@yomeshk, for the love of cricket, please get this in your head. People DO NOT complain about SPINNING tracks in India! We complain about tracks on which BOTH teams can't score more than 200 and the game ends on Day 3! There is no problem with making conditions to suit the home team.

Posted by Capricorn60 on (December 20, 2010, 8:59 GMT)

@SagirParkar - the press here is 'strangely' suddenly more muted after the Perth result yesterday! Maybe reality has dawned! Maybe they now know their team is not really as good as they think they are - even despite filling nearly half their team with South Africans!!! Maybe after India's thumping loss at the Centurion today, India needs to copy England in this regard by enticiing a few young promising Pakistani pace bowlers into their team to replace their feeble bowling attack!

Posted by stationmaster on (December 20, 2010, 2:43 GMT)

Colly looks like he's lost the guts for a fight. Bring in Morgan, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and is champing at the bit !

Posted by Meety on (December 20, 2010, 1:57 GMT)

I knew all along that Oz have the players that can win the Ashes & go to the top of the Test Rankings again. The piece of the formulae that is still missing is the Punter of Old. We may never see him in full flight as often as once upon a time but I feel that a ton is just around the corner - he has a pretty good record at THE G. I think Pup will have a couple of decisive innings before the series is out - surely Hussey is due for a few failures. The only change I would make is Hauritz in for either Siddle or Hilfy, Hilfy would be unlucky as I thought he swung the ball more then Harris - but had no luck. The pitch may suit Siddle's bang it in approach. Beer I think is NOT the answer for this match - I would of played him if we had lost @ the WACA. I think Oz will head into the 5th Test with a 2-1 advantage, lots of pressure then on England as Swann will have a lot to prove there. I also think that Finn is overrated, (conceed he as great stats though!), he has a 3rd grade run up.

Posted by cric_frnd on (December 20, 2010, 0:18 GMT)

Australia never learn to die till end. They level the series. They will surely fight for the rest of the series to win it for 3-1. It is not suprise for them. England needs to counter attack and atleast draw the rest of the matches, if they really want to defend the ASHES.

Posted by NP73 on (December 19, 2010, 23:48 GMT)

SWANN maybe the best spinner in the world. Murali, Harbajan Singh, Saqlain Mustaq and even the greatest of English offspinners, Jim Laker were also the best spinners in the world at the time they came to Australia and all were fairly unsuccessful. History shows that offspinners have never been the cause of visitors beating Australia in Australia. Frank Tyson, John Snow, Joel Garner, Curtley Ambrose and endless other West Indian quicks have been the ones who have enalbled visitors to win in Australia, never offspinners. Does anyone really think Swann is that much better than the great Murali that he can do what Murali didn't. I have great doubts. I believe it will be Anderson, Tremlett & co that will be the major forces if England get up, not Swann. In this context, Broad is a massive loss.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (December 19, 2010, 22:44 GMT)

A high-scoring score. That's a great piece of English. Is it onomatopoeic? And let me just check: your description of India as 'another of the world's best batting teams'-does that mean you are suggesting that England are one of the world's best batting teams? If you are, your delusion continues. As deluded as the poms who call England the 'new Australia.'

Posted by trumpoz on (December 19, 2010, 22:27 GMT)

The best thing about Australian grounds is that they all have a different character. GABBA: Lively day 1, great to bat 2-3 and starts to assist spin 4/5. WACA traditionally a bouncy lively wicket, and this year was a step in the right direction. Adelaide - a batsmans paridise, but will help spinners mid to late day 4-5. MCG - usually low and slow, but drop in wickets have rarely broken up. SCG - spinners paradise.

What is even better about them is that if CA or players or anyone tries to get in the road and direct the curators on how to prepare their wickets then the curators will tell them where to go even if it does not suit Australias position in the series. I still think England will retain the ashes unfortunately becuase of Swann. He has been well dealt with this series but the SCG is where he will take a big bag.

Posted by RJHB on (December 19, 2010, 22:02 GMT)

Ahhhhhh how sweet it is!!! Where are all those cocky England supporters now, bit quiet eh?? hehe What a turnaround! Funny how when the English flat track bullies get away from the best batting conditions, ie. like the roads of the Gabba and the second innings at Adelaide, they're suddenly human afterall!! Cashed in on the roads but can't handle a bit of extra pace and bounce it seems. Lucky for them Melbourne is very likely to be another road with the rubbish drop in pitches we get there now. Sydney will be interesting though, every match has been a green top this year it seems and it'll be very unlikely to see a dustbowl for Swan. Too bad so sad! And for that smarmy Pom whose comment after the Adelaide game about everything being right in the world again, NOW everything is RIGHT pal!! haha England get a smacking and India get clobbered, what could be better???!!!!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 19:38 GMT)

I am very suprised at england losing this match! They had 2 of the tallest bowlers in history on a bouncy wicket, and one of the best "utilisers" of swinging and seaming conditions in Finn, Tremlett and Anderson! Wow go aussie

Posted by srivatsan on (December 19, 2010, 19:29 GMT)

Andrew, what a cry baby England is, Karma - Remember the pitch you dished out Australia Headingly 2010?. So in conditions alien every team would score only 100+, be it England or Australia. Of course I could even attribute English ashes victory to dust bowl in Oval, but in fairness Australia won this test because they played well period.

Posted by StJohn on (December 19, 2010, 19:12 GMT)

The truth be told, neither the margin of England's victory in Adelaide nor the Aussies' here reflects the reality that there is not really that much between these two teams. As an Englishman I'm disappointed with such a pathetic batting performance, but it doesn't mean the series is lost for England, which is what popcorn seems to suggest. The difference between the teams in this match was simply a fantastic spell from Mitchell Johnson (always capable of being the best fast bowler in the world when he's on-song) and Michael Hussey. Take away Hussey and Watson's contributions from the Aussie 2nd innings and the team total would have been very low. I thought England bowled pretty well (not as well as the Aussies, obviously!), but the batting was woeful (hard really to understand how you can go from 620-5 dec to 310 for 20 wkts no matter how bouncy the pitch is, but there you go). At the end of the day this is a good result for the series and makes the final 2 Tests more interesting.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 18:56 GMT)

india doesnt make spinning pitches but flat batting pitches

Posted by Cricinfojunkie on (December 19, 2010, 18:30 GMT)

Interesting to see the Aussies have foud their voices again after a good showing at Perth. A new lease on life for Ponting but for how long...

Posted by tvradke on (December 19, 2010, 18:15 GMT)

It is ridiculous to suggest that there are teams that handle the moving ball well. Didn't Pakistan blow Australia out for 88 in seaming conditions? Pakistan then suffered the same at the hands of England. Among the batting teams around the world, I actually think that India is best equipped to handle tough conditions and they often do an admirable job with the bat. I remember the 2007 series in England when the Indian batsmen blunted the English pacers repeatedly in very tough conditions. It is their bowlers who largely fail to take advantage of the conditions and are unable to present an examination to the opposition that their own batsmen face. There is a slight fascination here with people bashing Indian players when the statistics tell you that the Indian middle order has succeeded in all parts of the world. I am glad to see the Aussies bounce back though. They needed this win to restore their pride after what they suffered in the Adelaide test. Waiting eagerly for Boxing day.

Posted by Soham.Bhattacharya on (December 19, 2010, 17:44 GMT)

Perth Pitch is amongst the best in the world....Its now not the old hostile pitch but a balanced pitch..In India Eden Gardens" generally "produce sporting wickets...

About the spinning wickets being criticized..I think its correct because we dont make spinning wickets here in India we make under prepared pitches which breaks up easily and are slow and low... A good spinning wicket should have bounce and not slow...A proper pitch is a good pitch with a green top and good bounce...which helps the pace bowlers at the start and initially spinners use the bounce only and later on the 4t and 5th day the pitch slows down with footmarks there is more grip..so there is both bounce and huge turn..thus spinners become deadly...

At the end of the day we need to make more sporting wickets for test cricket to remain interesting always... ... There should be results and not due to broken pitches or hostile fast pitches like the old New Zealand pitches but due to the merit of the team..

Posted by Soham.Bhattacharya on (December 19, 2010, 17:35 GMT)

I think the perth wicket is one of the most competitive and good pitches around the world....

The problem in test cricket now a days in poor pitch..The thing why people ridicule spinning wickets is because there is nothing called spinning wickets... Here in India some times we make under prepared flat pitches..which is not conducive to Test cricket...

If you ask any spinner they would say they love bouncy fast wickets...Anywyas 4th and fifth day the ball grips more and with the bounce spinners lvoe those wickets...

Due to under prepared flat wickets est cricket has become boring..... I think Eden Gardens generally has the best pitch in India and Perth in Australia are amongst the best pitches around the world...

Anyways modern day Perth wicket aint any where close to the old fast and bouncy hostile wicket..Its more of a great bouncy track and due to the conditions the ball swings a lot...

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 17:05 GMT)

Australia !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 16:40 GMT)

Great result for cricket. It means either for the ashes or the series/share of the series - both the Boxing day and the New Years day tests will be played for something other than honour no matter what happens. England were not beaten by bounce - they were undone by swing. Part of this is becasue the test side rarely plays on anything other than the very best pitches under the very best conditions. There are county stalwarts in the English game that would have played swing better than Pietersen, Cooke and Strauss. They do it because in April they are facing some decent seamers on emerald green pitches under leaden skies - not prancing about at Lilleshall or the MCC training facilities or wherever these guys preen themselves these days. These were the most English conditions - It was basically Old Trafford transplanted 6000 miles as far as pace and swing went - but when was the past time Pietersen played a 4 day game against Lancs on a swinging and under prepared April green-top?

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 16:12 GMT)

Looks like popcorn is over excited. Its a great win no doubt. But now the scores are leveled. The poms are gonna come hard at the Aussies at the MCG. WACA has always been a death-trap for visiting teams!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 15:37 GMT)

@SagirParkar, yes you are absolutely correct mate,

Posted by rvp68 on (December 19, 2010, 15:30 GMT)

So we have flat track bullies (India, England, SL,..), fast track bullies (RSA, Australia, etc.), dust bowl bullies (India, SL, etc.), banana swing bullies (England,Pakistan,...) and on we go. The truth is every team has a set of strengths and weaknesses and since every setting varies, the teams end up with different advantages or disadvantages in different settings. The great ones master all conditions and the average ones become rather one-dimensional. Great teams collect a few great ones at the same time and the truth is that over the past fifteen years only Taylor's and Waugh's Aussies qualify as being truly great and even they had trouble in India. RSA's teams would be right behind. So let's dispense with the inane name calling (after none of us have the abilities we admire in these players) and enjoy the contests. It is 1-1 in the ashes, so the question is can Johnson make it work for him at the MCG or will Swann come alive? And can India rebound and show some mettle?

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 19, 2010, 15:26 GMT)

KrishnaSwaroop Konidena: "damp seaming swinging conditions"???? What game were you watching? I was at the game & I have never in my life seen so many sunburnt Englishpersons. The game was played in just about THE driest conditions you could imagine (it was 35C+ most days too). It's dry heat here in Perth. No humidity

Posted by SagirParkar on (December 19, 2010, 14:28 GMT)

in response to Capricorn60 - did you hear the podcast on cricinfo where in former English cricketers and media had declared England the 'new Australia' ? i thought it was really laughable how one test victory suddenly makes you a world beating team. btw, i beleive that KP himself will not make more than 30 in any innings in the remainder of this series...

Posted by HaveYouGotYourBox on (December 19, 2010, 13:55 GMT)

"It's not a venue upon which England teams like to dwell."

Well, not for long, anyway...just a shade over 3 days.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 19, 2010, 13:49 GMT)

England supporters are making much of the WACA being a "hard, fast pitch"& "alien conditions". What tripe! It's not the WACA of old. Sure there was some bounce & carry, but nothing outrageous. Isn't that what the game needs? Not the batsman dominated roads we see all too often. As for the pace of the pitch, not one bowler hit 150k. England have reputations for being flat track bullies (almost of India proportions). They do not like "chin music". Jo'burg a case in point recently, when they were routed by Steyn & Morkel. The dismissals of Collingwood, Prior (both inns) & Anderson (both inns) were shameful. Absolutely no stomach for the fight. These are players who all (usually) have a lot to say onfield & are major niggle merchants. Lots of chat day 1, then funereal silence. If you were an Eng supporter, surely you would have to question the heart & valour of those players after that? That loss was as insipid, as it was gutless. Massive, massive momentum shift. Old scars need opening up.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 13:44 GMT)

no batting order can properly handle damp seaming swinging conditions. not just england and india. if every team bowls the same way in such conditions, we can only see sub par scores. dat was a bad parallel which was mentioned in this article, just bcoz there are 2 test matches taking place parallely.

Posted by yomeshk on (December 19, 2010, 13:35 GMT)

People here are talking about home advantage, the same is being mentioned in the on-going SA-India series that both the home teams should prepare pacy and bouncy pitches. If that is the case when India play home and spinning pitches are made why does the whole world and ICC has problems with it. At that time all other nations and cricketers start shouting about BCCI's dominance. If every nation is taking home condition advantage then please remember your words when you ask to take home advantage.

Posted by inefekt on (December 19, 2010, 13:33 GMT)

If CA had half a brain they'd be instructing the curators of both Melbourne and Sydney to produce similar conditions. While obviously being unable to perfectly replicate the WACA pitch they should at least try and produce a seaming, bouncy wicket and by no means produce a flat, batsmen friendly track like Adelaide or the Gabba. That's what home ground advantage is all about.

Posted by popcorn on (December 19, 2010, 11:41 GMT)

KP, did you want Mitchell Johnson's number? He's got yours. Hey, Poms,Barmy Army included, it's time to sing the nursey rhyme," London bridge is falling down,down,down,down!" What a thrashing! A deck of cards couldn't come down faster! Nasser Hussain, send me your column, will you? I like your pre-historic hype!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2010, 11:33 GMT)

Good article. As an England fan, I take comfort in the thought that it was the "alien" WACA conditions that was the source of our downfall this time, and hope that it won't happen again. I don't think it has helped that the loss of Broad has upset the balance of the team, though I don't think that would have helped us avoid a loss here.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (December 19, 2010, 11:09 GMT)

I'll say when Johnson is bowling well Aus looks a much much better side, the same with Eng when Swann bowls well. The Perth conditions I thought were good, if you bowl well you get wickets and there is value for shots. I think ALL teams these days struggle against the moving ball, whether pace or spin. It shows that standards HAVE DROPPED.

Posted by Capricorn60 on (December 19, 2010, 9:14 GMT)

As a neutral cricket fan living in England, it is great that English team have got a thrashing & come down to earth with a 'bump'. This is because after their win in Adelaide, it was again simply amazing the press here & all former English cricketers like Vaughan, Gatting etc were going totally overboard as usual & saying how how brilliant England are, how they expected the team to win ALL the remaining tests & win the Ashes handsomely! One swallow doesn't make a summer nor does just one English win suddenly make them world beaters!!!

Posted by Vindaliew on (December 19, 2010, 9:01 GMT)

Ponting needs to do everything he can to ensure that the remaining two pitches are pace-friendly and offer nothing to spinners ever. That way he can reduce the threat of Swann, and more importantly avoid having to reluctantly pick a mediocre spinner in his eleven. Spin is England's strength and Australia's weakness, so it makes no sense to allow for spin on pitches - what else is home advantage for?

Posted by KarachiKid on (December 19, 2010, 7:57 GMT)

Well here is my assessment of the top four teams: Indian and English teams play well on flat tracks, Proteas and Aussies are formidable challenge on bouncy, seaming tracks. All four of them, along with SL (at times) can be bracketed as best four teams and the rankings show just that. I would like to see India Vs England on flat track and SA vs Australia on lively track.

Posted by Something_Witty on (December 19, 2010, 7:55 GMT)

It seems that Shane Watson and Mike Hussey are the only men from either team who can handle the moving ball. Hopefully the pitch at the MCG will be sporting and our boys can keep on playing well.

Posted by nataraajds on (December 19, 2010, 7:15 GMT)

i mention before, Aus can bounce back anytime, they did comeback well full credit to Hussy Watsan, jonson and harris. Harris as a special talent of picking supprise 5 wkt haul he has a very good future.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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