Boycott hails 'textbook' Hussey
Geoffrey Boycott knows a thing or two about playing at the WACA - he averaged 63.80 at the ground on two separate Ashes campaigns - and has hailed Mike Hussey's series-levelling efforts in the third Test as "textbook" and "magnificent".
It's no secret that Mike Hussey has been Australia's best batsman of this Ashes series, and his run tally stands at 517, the most on either side, with two hundreds and three fifties. On his home ground at Perth, his innings of 61 and 116 kept England out of the game and, together with six-wicket hauls for Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris, helped set up a 267-run win.
On a grassy pitch with plenty of bounce, if not quite the pace that the WACA used to be famous for, "you've got to play like Hussey did", Boycott told ESPNcricinfo. "Hussey's innings was absolutely a class. If you want to know how to bat, watch him bat in this innings. He didn't play anything he didn't have to. Anything around off stump that he didn't have to play, he kept right away from.
"So he made the bowlers bowl straighter to him, and then he has a wide range of shots he played. But when he played forward, he made a big stride right to the pitch of the ball, got his nose over the top of it and his balance forward: absolutely textbook.
Hussey entered with his side in deep trouble at 3 for 28 in the first innings and helped them limp past 100 before half-centuries from Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson carried Australia to 268. It was a similar situation in the second innings, when the hosts were wobbling at 3 for 64 before Hussey stemmed the tide by adding 113 with Shane Watson and 75 with Steven Smith.
"He hardly missed a ball, and never looked like missing a ball," added Boycott. "And you watch a lot of the England batsmen, they're sat back because of the short ball and bouncer. But then when it's pitched up, you've got to get your feet out, like Hussey, to the pitch of it. They got caught on the crease. I thought Hussey's innings was magnificent - how to play on a bouncy pitch. I'm afraid England were exposed by a better side."
Boycott remained firm in his view that there was little to separate the two sides, suggesting that "then it's a question on what type of surface you play on, that helps certain bowlers, and what sort of form people are in. You have to have excellent planning for the types of surfaces you're going to play on. If England played on more of these bouncy surfaces, they'll lose."
A seamer-friendly surface in Melbourne doesn't appear to be on the cards - in England's warm-up game against Victoria the back-up seam attack managed just one wicket in two innings. The Test will be played on a different surface, however, and Boycott suggested that Australia would ask for something that would help their seamers.
"Australia might say we don't want a flat nothing for this pitch, that helps England's batsmen and brings Graeme Swann into the act. They might ask for something with pace and bounce, and then it's a question of can he make one with pace and bounce? If you have a surface that tends to be flat and die on you, can you make it bounce?
"At the WACA we know you can, but Melbourne doesn't have a history of that. So can he? If he can, then they might ask him to leave grass on, and then they can get their quicks into it."