Has the WACA pitch lost its shine?

Perth's cricket pitch, once regarded as the fastest in Australia, will not be at its fearsome best for Australia's Ashes series against England in December, the ground curator said.

The Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) pitch has been criticised in recent seasons for losing its trademark bounce and pace. Cameron Sutherland, the curator, said Ricky Ponting had spoken to him and his colleagues last February about the likely state of pitches for this year's Ashes Test series.

"[The Australians] want to know what each characteristic is so they can pick a squad and arrive at the ground and it [the pitch] is basically what they expect it to be," Sutherland told The Daily Telegraph.

Dennis Lillee, the legendary fast bowler, had criticised the WACA pitch last season for not having its renowned liveliness and Sutherland said the matter was being addressed, but the pitch would not be at its best for the Ashes series.

"The clay percentage has dropped probably 20 percent from its heyday," Sutherland said. "That has been replaced with sand and makes for a wicket more like the eastern states. It is still going to be a pretty good wicket in terms of pace and bounce, but it is still not going to be like it was 20 years ago when Lillee and [Jeff] Thomson were steaming in."

Kevin Mitchell, the curator of the Gabba, said his Brisbane pitch, which will be used for the first Test on November 23, was vying with Perth as being the fastest in Australia. "We are up there for pace for sure," Mitchell told the newspaper. "We have a pacy deck, but bounce is hard to compare."

Mitchell said there had been no requests from Ponting for an unfair pitch advantage against England. "We are lucky in Australia to have the support of Cricket Australia and all the teams," Mitchell said. "We are so lucky we don't have the pressures other countries do."