The countdown is now on in earnest for Test Cricket’s debut at Perth’s Optus Stadium with the second test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy set to take place at the venue from December 14th. Since it’s opening in early 2018, the multi sport venue has proven to be as state of the art and fan friendly as it is imposing to opposition teams.
Exciting as the Burswood venue has proven to be, what the WACA lacks in trinkets it more than makes up for in history and folklore. Opened in 1893 and a Test Match venue since 1970, it has been an intimidating venue for visiting teams to these shores and a favourite for Australian teams and fans. As other venues became more alike in their blandness, the WACA has retained a character that has lent itself to attackingly played Test Matches.
One of the Old Girl’s most cherished characteristics is that of the pitch. Mindful of this, the Perth Stadium have been meticulous in trying to replicate these characteristics in the drop-in pitches that will be used in the Burswood venue. WACA curators created pitches using the same trays that will be used at the new ground. A ‘trial’ match, replicating Test Match conditions, was played and the nature of the pitch was recorded using many different measures. From captain’s reports, similar to those used after First Class matches asking for players’ perceptions of the pitch, Hawkeye and Nuclear Bulk Density Gauges, no stone was left unturned to test the pitch. They will continue this work until all are happy that the WACA pitch is successfully replicated in these drop-pitches.
If they are successful in their efforts, many will quickly move on from their sadness at the demise of Perth’s first Test Match venue. Despite this, the WACA will live long in the memory of Australian Cricket Fans, through its long list of Test Match highlights. Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable.
HAYDOS HITS WORLD RECORD 380
Zimbabwe’s one and only Test visit to Western Australia was memorable for reasons the Test minnows would like to forget. Captain Heath Streak correctly called the coin toss but inexplicably invited the Australian’s to bat first, an invitation the World Number One team took full advantage of.
After 146 overs of back breaking toil under the Perth sun, the Zimbabweans had conceded the second highest score in the history of Test Cricket, 6/735dec and witnessed first-hand, Matthew Hayden set a new record for highest individual Test Match Innings.
The big-hitting, broad shouldered Queenslander was merciless in his 10 hour marathon stay at the crease. He bludgeoned the Zimbabwean attack to all parts of the WACA ground, smashing 49 boundaries in an innings he has described as the most perfect he has played.
After finishing day one 183 not out, Hayden resumed the assault on Day 2. Seemingly untroubled, he passed the Australian record of 334, held by Mark Taylor and Don Bradman. It was only as he closed in on Brian Lara’s World Record of 375 that he showed any kind of fallibility. Then, facing the left-arm spin of Ray Price, in the last over before tea, a gentle push to mid-off allowed Hayden a single and the record.
His Captain granted Hayden the opportunity to become the first man to score 400 in a Test Match innings and the opener looked to increase the scoring rate even further. A brilliant innings was brought to an end by a brilliant Stuart Carlisle catch, but not before the WACA scorer Charlie Bull ran out of space in the score book and had to use the 12th man column to record the last third of the record-breaking knock.H