Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The WACA has provided some electrifying games in the past, mostly delivered by quality fast bowlers who have single handedly turned games in their teams favor. A few performances that come to mind are Richard Hadlee’s 11 wicket haul in 1985, Curtly Ambrose’s 1st innings 7 for 25 in 1993 and Glenn McGrath destroying Pakistan in the 2nd innings in 2004 with figures of 8 for 24 among many others. It’s not a coincidence that many out and out quicks have declared the WACA as their favorite hunting ground. Australia has had a lot of good fortune at this venue. This is due of the abundant stocks of quality Australian fast bowlers in the last 20 years. The last two decades have seen Australia play 20 matches at the WACA while winning 13 of them. These results are mostly due to the outstanding bowling of McGrath, Lee, Gillespie, McDermott, Hughes, Kasprowicz and Johnson.

Presently, Australia is with their backs to the wall with England threatening to take the Ashes away from them in the third game of the series. This is an unheard of scenario for the Australians as hosts in the whole history of the Ashes. It is in times such as these that hard decisions have to be made to regain the advantage from the opposition. The Australian selectors made some key blunders with their choices in the last few games, especially with the persistence of Marcus North, the exclusion of Mitchell Johnson due to a couple of poor performances and the exclusion of Nathan Hauritz, their most experienced spinner. They have chopped and changed the bowling line up at the first hint of inconsistency. These frequent changes have hindered the Australian progress more than it has helped them and prevented them from building any momentum in this series in particular. The Australian selectors will have much to answer for if England retains the Ashes before Christmas.

The Australian selectors have slotted Phillip Hughes in for the injured Simon Katich, a good choice given Hughes's quality, aggression and prolific scoring in the past few domestic seasons. However, England will look to exploit Hughes weakness against the short ball by making the tall duo of Finn and Tremlett unleash a barrage of short balls to unsettle the opener. Given the nature of the pitch it may have been wiser for the Australian selectors to open with a batsman who is more comfortable against short bowling.

The inclusion of Michael Beer in the squad is a surprise to many as Beer is neither experienced nor superior to any of the other spin debutants since the retirement of Shane Warne. Even though Beer plays for Western Australia in domestic cricket, he does not have enough matches under his belt to suggest that he has an intimate knowledge of the pitch to provide any home ground advantage with his bowling.

Marcus North has finally got the sack and instead of bringing a specialist batsman to the squad, North has been replaced by Steve Smith which indicates that Smith will bat a number 6. This decision alone may prove to be the redemption for the Australian selectors as Smith will beef up the batting while giving Ponting an additional choice in the bowling department. This is not an ideal venue for a spinner to make an impact, even the great Shane Warne has failed to take a five wicket haul in the 12 games he had played here; however, Smith is a valuable option that Ponting will be thankful for.

The Australians should go in to this must win game with a four pronged pace attack which will be a huge asset on this ground. Johnson, Harris, Hilfenhaus and Siddle have to use the WACA to wrestle the advantage away from England. Even a draw may not be good enough as England will definitely perform better in the following games at Sydney and Melbourne.

England on the other hand will have less difficulties and uncertainties in their selection process. They will definitely miss the pace and bounce of Stuart Broad who would have enjoyed bowling at Hughes in particular, but they would be satisfied with the adequate replacement of Tremlett who was impressive in the tour match against Australia A in Hobart with match figures of 7 for 123. In the batting department, Andrew Strauss should take on more responsibility as Australia are sure to come hard at the English batsmen with their pace attack.



Bell averages 71.91 in his last 10 games with three hundreds and four fifties in three series against South Africa, Bangladesh and Australia. He has already scored 2 fluent fifties against Australia as well as two more fifties and a massive 192 in four tour matches. His bat has not been needed due to the fluency of the English top order so far in the series. However, the law of averages are bound to catch up with Cook, Trott and Pietersen in the next game especially as Australia will come hard at them with pace. Watch out for Bell to unfold his enviable stroke making at the WACA.

Anderson’s performance has steadily improved as the series progressed. He is one of the major problems that Australia has encountered as their batsmen have not been able to dominate Anderson. Every time an Australian batsman seems to get the measure of him, Anderson has come back strongly and bowled extremely skillfully to put Australia under pressure. Expect more of the same from him in Perth with the Fremantle Doctor at his back and the excitement of the birth of a child to buoy his mood.

This is a perfect pitch for these two 6 foot 7 inch giants to use their height to their advantage. Both Finn and Tremlett have the opportunity shine in the absence of Broad. No doubt, Andy Flower would have revved them up to unleash a few thunderbolts at the Australian batting. Their success will depend on their adaptation as well as the discipline and determination they show to persevere if the going gets tough.


He will be compelled to bat at his best to save the series, his team, his captaincy, his legacy and the pride of Australian cricket. In the past, Ponting has answered his critics strongly with his bat. However, never has this man seen such a low in his illustrious career and never has his leadership been questioned as universally as it is being questioned now. The vultures are circling and Ponting has nowhere to turn but deep inside and pull out the innings that will make or break his legacy. Thought by many as the best number 3 batsman after Bradman and the best in the world today, he will have to live up to his reputation to keep his team alive.

Michael Hussey
The only Australian to turn up for duty in this Ashes series. While the rest of his team mates are struggling with their confidence, batting form or trying to figure out how to get the English batsman out, Hussey has held the fort on his own to no avail. Hussey may have to come in early and play a game saving knock if Anderson, Finn and Tremlett rock the Australian top order as they did in Adelaide. He should be brimming with confidence due to his three previous outings and he is also playing in his home ground at the WACA. 

Will be playing at his home ground where the pitch will assist him more than any of the other Australian bowlers. He will provide the performance that will bring Australia back in to the series. He must, for the sake of his reputation and his future in the team. His performances usually depend on his levels of confidence his confidence should come through with familiarity. The familiarity of playing in his home ground will give him enough confidence, experience and knowledge on how to manipulate the conditions to get him his elusive first wicket and first run of the series.

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